Timika, Papua (ANTARA News) - Bank Pembangunan Daerah Papua (Bank Papua) has since February 20 rejected new credit proposal from the workers of Freeport Indonesia and its affiliates.

The decision is temporarily until Freeport reached an agreement with the government and resume normal operation, said Joko Suparyono, acting chief of the Timika branch of Bank Papua, which is owned by the provincial administration.

"If Freeport has resumed normal operation credits would be available again for the workers of the company and its affiliates," Joko said here on Thursday.

Freeport, which operates the countrys largest copper and gold mines in Papua, have been in disagreement over new status of contract and a number of contract terms.

Freeport, a subsidiary of U.S. mining giant Freeport-McMoRan has threatened to bring the case to an international arbitrary court and the government said it was ready to meet the challenge.

The American mining company has brought the worlds biggest gold mine, to a standstill. And now that Freeport has started to dismiss tens of thousands of workers, the local economy is poised to take a huge hit. In Mimika Regency, the West Papua province containing the Grasberg gold mine, 91 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is attributed to Freeport.

Freeport Indonesia abruptly stopped production on February 10 and laid off 10 percent of its foreign workers. It employs 32,000 people in Indonesia, about 12,000 of whom are full-time employees. The freeze was a reaction to a shakeup in Freeport's 30-year contract with the Indonesian government, signed in 1991. Indonesia has tried to levy additional obligations from Freeport in an attempt to increase domestic revenue from its natural resources.

Joko said the bank policy is temporary but based on the position taken by both sides it might take a long time before an agreement is reached between the government and Freeport.

He said around 3,000 workers of Freeport have accounts in Bank Papua. Bank Papua has provided credits for the workers of PT Freeport and its affiliates like PT Kuala Pelabuhan Indonesia (KPI), Puncak Jaya Power (PJP), Rimba Papua Hotel (RPH), etc.

Joko said he had no report about how many workers of Freeport laid off or suspended having debts in credit provided by the bank.

"Until February it was normal. The workers still received the salaries , but we would not know what would happen next," he said.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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