But the company’s latest export permit expired last Thursday. And reports suggest the Indonesian government has refused to renew this key permission.
And a few things happened right before the permit expiry, which make this case extra complicated.
For one, Indonesian officials had demanded that Freeport deposit $530 million for construction of smelter. An amount the company says was not part of its contract with the government.
Another key event has been recent demands by Indonesia that Freeport sell a 10.64% stake in its Grasberg mega-mine to the government. Which Freeport said in mid-January it would be willing to vend for $1.7 billion.
The government subsequently said that offer was overpriced. Suggesting officials will play hardball on the amount for this purchase.
With both of those issues still in limbo, it’s not surprising the government has halted Freeport’s export permissions. Company officials said Monday that operations are still running as usual at the Grasberg mine — but it appears that copper ore may be headed for stockpile rather than sale here for the next while.
At the same time, some interesting reports have emerged on Freeport in local newspapers in a completely different part of the world: Chile. Suggesting the firm may be looking at selling its 51% interest in the massive El Abra mine here.
Such a move could be aimed at raising some of the cash necessary to resolve the Indonesia situation. With local Chilean papers naming state copper miner Codelco as a possible buyer of El Abra.
Watch to see if this emergency mine sale does materialize — and who the potential bidders and buyers are. This could mean a high-quality asset coming available to the market.