Jakarta (ANTARA) - Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) Arifin Tasrif has asked mining company PT Freeport Indonesia to accelerate the construction of a copper processing and refining plant (smelter) in Gresik, East Java.

"They have to speed up the completion of the smelter as soon as possible. Until now, the progress has reached 60 percent with a quite large budget amounting to US$1.5 billion. If it is not finished, it will be such a waste," he said at the Presidential Palace Complex in Jakarta on Friday.

Currently, PT Freeport Indonesia is building a new copper smelter in Manyar, Special Economic Zone (KEK), Java Integrated Industrial and Port Estate (JIIPE), Gresik, East Java, which is targeted to become fully operational in 2024.

The Indonesian government has verified the construction progress of the Manyar smelter to be more than 50 percent complete, Tasrif informed.

However, referring to Law Number 3 of 2020 concerning Mineral and Coal Mining (Minerba), three years after the regulation was issued on June 10, 2020, that is, from June 10, 2023, all raw minerals meant for export will need to go through a process of increasing added value in the country. Therefore, the government will also need to stop exports of raw minerals, including copper.

"We have decided to allow the export of copper concentrate. PT Freeport Indonesia must also finish the smelter and not later than the middle of next year," he said.

Apart from PT Freeport Indonesia, Tasrif said that PT Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara (AMNT) has also been allowed to export copper concentrate.

It is known that PT Freeport Indonesia and AMNT are also building a new copper concentrate processing plant in Batu Hijau, West Sumbawa district, West Nusa Tenggara (NTT), at an estimated investment value of US$982 million, or equivalent to Rp14.7 trillion. However, the construction schedule has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If the construction is hampered, it will affect thousands of workers there. We hope the company to have a commitment to finish the project. For now, we are aiming to achieve industrial downstreaming by taking advantage of natural resources as much as possible," Tasrif said.

The Manyar smelter project is projected to process 1.7 million tons of copper concentrate per year into around 600 thousand tons of cathode copper per year.

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Translator: Desca Lidya N, Resinta S
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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