Newmont Indonesia, union in talks over mine protest

JAKARTA, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Newmont Mining Corp’s Indonesian unit said on Monday it is in talks with a worker union and local government to solve a protest that blocked access to its copper and gold mine last week.

Production at Newmont Nusa Tenggara’s (NNT) Batu Hijau copper and gold mine was unaffected after a demonstration by 40 people over job availability at its facilities on Sumbawa island from Thursday last week , a spokesman said.

Newmont Nusa Tenggara said in August there were 5,500 applicants trying to work in the firm, but only 230 were accepted, prompting it to cancel the process.

Muhammad Syahril, the head of a workers union, told Reuters that up to a thousand people — about a quarter of the total workers at the mine — had not been able to get into the open pit mine site for three days since the blockade.

“The operation in the mine continues, but clearly there’s a disruption because there’s not enough workers… Materials, logistics were disrupted because of this,” Syahril said.

Batu Hijau, the nation’s second-biggest copper mine, aims to produce around 275 million pounds of copper and 275,000 ounces of gold in 2011.

Both Syahril and company spokesman Rubi Purnomo said that the talks to resolve the problem were ongoing, but that an agreement had yet to be reached.

The blockade could be imposed again if the talks failed to come up with an agreement, Syahril said.

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