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Indonesia to grant Freeport temporary exemptions to some mining rules

Freeport-McMoRan Inc. unit PT Freeport Indonesia will be temporarily exempted from some new mining rules while the Indonesian government processes the company's application for new mining rights, Reuters reported Jan. 31, citing Coal and Minerals Director General Bambang Gatot.

"While their special mining license is not definitive, we cannot apply [these rules] fully," Gatot said.

Just a day earlier, Mining Minister Ignasius Jonan hinted at issuing the company a temporary permit within one or two days while the government decides on its application for a special mining license.

The temporary permit will potentially allow the company to resume exports of copper concentrate from the Grasberg copper-gold mine.

Riza Pratama, a spokesman for Freeport's Indonesian unit, said the company will only adopt the new mining rules after securing "a stability agreement providing the same rights and the same level of legal and fiscal certainty provided under its contract of work."

The company has requested that concentrate exports be allowed while the new license and stability agreement are discussed, Pratama noted.

Freeport's copper concentrate shipments from Indonesia have been halted since Jan. 12, when a ban on shipping semiprocessed ore out of the country came into effect.

Under its current contract, the company "is not required to pay export duties on concentrate or to conduct further divestments," Pratama added.