Freeport must give priority to work safety: governor

Freeport must give priority to work safety: governor

Indonesian police officers increase the security level in PT Freeport Indonesia's site in Timika, Papua, soon after the landslide that buried the US based mining company, several days ago. (FOTO ANTARA/Spedy Paereng)

... This incident is a new (bad) history for Freeport in its tens of years of operations... "
Timika, Papua (ANTARA News) - Papua Governor Lukas Enembe asked PT Freeport Indonesia to give priority to the safety of each of its worker who worked in its gold and copper mining areas.

The governor told newsmen here on Friday that the many number of dead victims in the collapse of its underground training facility, Big Gossan, on Tuesday (May14) was a bad history for Freeport which had been operating in Mimika for tens of years.

"This incident is a new (bad) history for Freeport in its tens of years of operations. The incident claimed a big number of victims," said Lukas.

Lukas Enembe, who was appointed governor of Papua two months ago for the 2013-2018 period, reminded Freeport the importance of listening to the various suggestions from the government and local community leaders.

"Listen to what we talks about and what local community leaders say so that all will proceed well," said Lukas.

The government of Papua province, he said, expressed deep condolences to the death of a number workers of Freeport as a result of the collapse of the Big Gossan underground training facility.

Chairman of Commission B of Mimika`s Regional Legislative Assembly (DPRD) Wilhelmus Pigai said that the collapse of the facility in the PT Freeport area and buried 39 workers were an extraordinary accident.

"We should not underestimate this accident. This an extraordinary accident that claimed a lot of victims. This is a humanitarian tragedy," Wilhelmus said.

He called for an independent investigation into the collapse of the training facility and urged the company to carry out an overall evaluation of its underground work safety system.

Wilhelmus said he strongly supported the temporary closure of all PT Freeport`s mining activities there so that it would be able to carry out evacuation of 20 other victims who were still buried in the Big Gossan tunnel.

Of the 15 victims who are already found, five have died. They are Mateus Marandof, Selpianus Edoway, Yapinus Tabuni, Aan Nugraha and Rooy Kailuhu.

Four of the 10 other miners still have to undergo follow-up treatment in Jakarta because they are still in critical conditions.

PT Freeport said the efforts to rescue and evacuate workers are still continued. Freeport President Director Rozik B. Soetjipto and the Director General for Mineral and Coal Affairs Thamrin Sihite have arrived in Tembagapura since Thursday to observe the evacuation process and to visit the victims who are still admitted to the hospital in Tembapura.

Rozik said on Wednesday that the accident took place on Tuesday. "On Tuesday at 7.30am while the workers were gathering in a training room parts of the tunnel in the area collapsed," he said.

After the incident Freeport immediately conducted rescue efforts but the efforts had been hindered because the room was small and there were risks of further collapse.

"They have to use light equipment such as saws, stone crushers and also work manually," he said.

Rozik said the company had sent 200 rescuers to the scene in an effort to find the rest of the victims, from contractors, geo-technical staff as well as local administrations concerned.

By 3.50pm the rescue team was able to evacuate 10 people safely and four bodies.

The wounded victims have been taken to the company hospital in Tembagapura and their conditions have been stable while another one has been flown to Jakarta for further treatment on Wednesday morning.

Rozik said until now the company along with mining inspectors from the central and regional governments are still investigating the cause of the collapse.

He said the company has asked the team to inspect the whole underground structure to check its safety.

"This is only a preventive measure as we have so far always conducted periodic checks," he said. ***4***