Timika (ANTARA) - Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Ignatius Jonan urged PT Freeport Indonesia to explore new reserves of copper, gold and silver minerals in its concession area so that they can be managed by Indonesian children, especially in Papua, after the end of the Special Mining Business Permit in 2041.

This was stated by Minister Jonan while inaugurating a number of facilities to empower the local communities of the Amungme and Kamoro Tribes, which were built using the funds of the PT Freeport Indonesia partnership by the Amungme and Kamoro Community Development Institute at the Papua SP4 Taruna School, Timika, Thursday.

"In the past 20 years, we have been able to explore; maybe within the next 100 years, the reserves of copper, gold and silver ore in the Freeport area will not yet get exhausted. Hopefully, this can be managed properly," said Jonan.

At present, he said the production capacity of PT Freeport Indonesia's copper, gold and silver seeds at the Tembagapura, Mimika, Papua mine site, reaches an average of 3 million tons per year.

Assuming the production capacity of copper, gold and silver seeds is around 3 million tons per year, after 2041, it is estimated that there will still be reserves of mineral ore to be mined in around 15 years.

Before visiting the Papua Taruna School to inaugurate a number of local community empowerment facilities built by the institute and PT Freeport, Minister Jonan conducted air monitoring of the deposition area of PT Freeport Indonesia's sand mining in the low-lying area of Mimika, on the northern side of Timika City.

Jonan said he had spent around 30-40 minutes in a Freeport Airfast helicopter to directly watch over the tailings deposition area and the local environmental rehabilitation efforts carried out by Freeport, such as at Mile 21 Maurupauw.

Regarding the management of the environmental impact due to Freeport's mining operations in Mimika, Minister Jonan asked Freeport to seriously implement environmental conservation standards.

"This should not be violated. Now, there is a program or roadmap that must be carried out by PT Freeport until 2041. It must be followed," he said.

Jonan also suggested that the Freeport party cultivates hard plants such as merbau trees in the tailings deposition area.

"If they can live, other plants will certainly survive. If hard plants can live, even though the growth process takes a long time, the affected area can be preserved again," said the former Minister of Transportation.

To the traditional leaders of the Amungme and Kamoro tribe and the local church in Timika, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources invited them to become actively involved in encouraging the community to preserve the environment.

"Incidentally, there is the Bishop of Timika (Mgr John Philip Saklil); please help the church to also encourage environmental preservation because the earth that we inhabit is not an ancestral inheritance but belongs to God. This is so our children and grandchildren can live well," said Jonan.

After inaugurating a number of community empowerment program facilities built by the institute and PT Freeport, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources together with the group visited the Mitra Masyarakat Hospital (RSMM) Timika, a local community health service facility for seven tribes in Mimika Regency.

On Friday (3/5), Jonan and his entourage were scheduled to visit PT Freeport Indonesia mining area in Tembagapura, both the Grasberg open pit mine and the underground mine.

Translator: Eliswan Azly
Editor: Bambang Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2019