Freeport Indonesia CEO resigns after latest scandal

freeport grasberg mine

Latin American Herald Tribune

Maroef Sjamsoeddin submitted his resignation on Monday from his post as the President Director of Freeport Indonesia, a U.S.-based mining company with controversial gold and copper operations in the eastern Indonesian province of Papua, Tempo.co news site reported today.

In a letter sent to all Freeport Indonesia employees, Sjamsoeddin said that his tenure as president has ended and that he didn’t accept parent company Freeport McMoRan’s offer to extend his contract, which began in January last year.

Company spokesperson Riza Pratama confirmed the former president’s resignation, saying only that he resigned for “personal” reasons.

No stranger to criticism, Freeport Indonesia was involved in a recent scandal, in which former House of Representatives speaker Setya Novanto allegedly tried to seek favours in return for extending the company’s work contract. Novanto resigned in December of last year.

Sjamsoeddin had testified in front of the House’s ethics council in hearings into the affair.

Freeport has also for several years faced allegations that its 50-year-old Grasberg mine in Papua, which holds the world’s largest gold ore reserves, has caused environmental damage and been linked to human rights abuses.

For months, the company has been criticized in street protests in Jakarta calling for it to be expelled from the country, as well as calls for the nationalization of the Indonesian unit of the U.S.-based mining firm.

Sjamsoeddin’s decision comes amid ongoing efforts of the provincial Papua government to secure ownership of its share of Freeport.

“What’s important is that Freeport Indonesia has its duties and obligations according to a work contract and obeys the laws and regulations that apply,” Bangun Manurung, head of the Energy and Mineral Resource Department in Papua said yesterday.

Papua Governor Lukas Enembe said recently that he wants Papua’s shareholder status in Freeport to be decided this year.

“The government and the indigenous people of Papua should have a dividend every year. That is what we are still discussing,” Enembe said on Dec. 16 last year.

As an interim measure, Robert C. Shroeder, executive vice president of Freeport Indonesia, has taken over as president director of the mining company.

Papua is Indonesia’s largest and easternmost province and borders the country of Papua New Guinea to its east. Until 2002 the province was called Irian Jaya.

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Filed under Corruption, Environmental impact, Human rights, Kiribati

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