Friday, June 14, 2024

PT Freeport Indonesia’s copper smelter set to operate in June 2024

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PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) President Director Tony Wenas has confirmed that the copper smelter in the Java Integrated Industrial Port Estate (JIIPE) area in Gresik, East Java, is on track to start operations by June 2024.

“We are currently in the commissioning phase, which involves testing, trials, and verifying that the equipment and systems designed, installed, and operated meet substantial standards. We expect to be operational by June,” Tony said during his visit to the Manyar copper smelter in Gresik to monitor the project’s progress on Monday, May 27, 2024.

He emphasized that the smelter’s construction is part of the company’s commitment to adding value to minerals produced and supporting the government’s industrial downstreaming policy.

The second PTFI smelter, which began construction in October 2021, is designed to purify copper concentrate with a capacity of 1.7 million tons per year, making it the largest single-line copper smelter in the world.

The smelter includes facilities such as a precious metals refining unit, an oxygen unit, a sulfuric acid unit, a desalination unit, and an effluent and wastewater treatment plant.

These are intended to maximize the utilization of raw materials, by-products, and waste, achieving high efficiency in the smelting and refining process.

Currently, 60 percent of PTFI’s copper concentrate production is exported, with the remaining 40 percent refined domestically through PT Smelting in Gresik, East Java, to produce copper cathodes.

However, the anode slime containing gold and silver is still exported. Once the second smelter becomes operational, the purification of anode slime will be fully conducted domestically.

“Completing the world’s largest single-line copper smelter comes with many challenges. However, our project team, contractors, and subcontractors have performed admirably, supported by the central and local governments to ensure timely project completion,” Tony said.

He disclosed in March 2024 that the smelter would begin production in August 2024 but would not be fully operational until December 2024.

“We need to ensure all systems are functioning properly after the production machines are activated. This process will take about 6-10 weeks, so the first copper cathodes will be produced in August 2024,” he said at that time.

Tony also highlighted that constructing the Gresik smelter within the government’s five-year timeline posed a significant challenge for the company’s domestic investment plans.

Freeport has invested up to US$3.1 billion (Rp48 trillion) by the end of December 2023.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the construction timeline extended to six years. The schedule is tight and very aggressive, but we are confident in completing the smelter on time,” he concluded.

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