PT Freeport Indonesia’s Smelter Optimistically Starts Operations in May 2024 

09 February 2023


The Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, K. H. Ma'ruf Amin, visited PT Freeport Indonesia’s (PTFI) refining facility (smelter) construction site in the Java Integrated Industrial and Port Estate (JIIPE) area in Gresik, East Java. During the visit, Vice President Amin was optimistic that PTFI’s smelter, which is the world’s largest single-line smelter, could operate in May 2024 as planned to process PTFI’s raw materials.

The construction of the smelter is part of the downstream program launched by the government in accordance with Law Number 4 of 2009 concerning Mineral and Coal Mining. “The government, in the context of developing its industry, is carrying out downstreaming, and building a smelter is one form of implementation of downstreaming. Therefore, I am here to inspect the construction progress of PT Freeport Indonesia’s smelter,” said Vice President Amin.

The construction of PTFI’s second smelter, continued Vice President Amin, is the pride of Indonesia because it is the largest smelter in the world, capable of processing up to 1.7 million metric tons of concentrate per year. Meanwhile, PTFI’s first smelter, PT Smelting, is capable of processing 1.3 million tons. “Overall, the two smelters are capable of processing three million tons of concentrate per year,” Vice President Amin conveyed.

Another multiplier effect of this smelter construction project is the absorption of around 11,000 workers, with 98% of the workforce coming from Indonesia and 50% of them coming from East Java. “This project will also absorb a large number of workers, namely as many as 11,000 workers. For this reason, the local government needs to prepare a skilled workforce by conducting vocational training in accordance with the demands here,” said Vice President Amin.

The PTFI smelter project is targeted to complete construction by the end of December 2023, followed by the production process by May 2024, and the COD by the end of December 2024. Responding to this, Vice President Amin said he was optimistic that this target could be achieved considering the current progress, which exceeds the target that has been set. “I am optimistic that the construction project can be completed according to the target, noting that there are several targets that have been achieved. PTFI has also exceeded by two percent what has been targeted. For that, I hope that the May 2024 target can be advanced earlier since there are several parts that have been completed,” explained Vice President Amin.

On the same occasion, President Director of PTFI, Tony Wenas, said that in addition to processing the concentrate to become a copper cathode, the smelter will also produce silver and gold bars because there are precious metal refinery (PMR) facilities as well as nickel, aluminum, lithium, and cobalt, which are part of the electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem. “This smelter will produce copper, which is one of the main items for the electric vehicle ecosystem. Besides, of course, nickel, aluminum, cobalt, and lithium. These commodities are all very important elements for the downstream industry, and I’m sure, because the President has said it several times, that an EV ecosystem will be built in Indonesia,” said Tony.

Tony hopes that after PTFI’s second smelter is active, it can become a stimulus for the growth of other downstream industries, especially those related to the electric vehicle ecosystem. “We hope that with the completion of this smelter construction project, downstream industries can grow, especially in relation to the electric vehicle ecosystem,” hoped Tony.

The construction of PT Freeport Indonesia’s smelter in the Java Integrated Industrial and Port Estate Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is the second smelter built by PTFI to process and refine its concentrate products after PT Smelting in the PT Petrokimia Gresik area. This smelter is the largest single-line smelter in the world, and its processing capacity reaches 1.7 million tons. Furthermore, when it is operational, all of PTFI’s concentrate can be processed and refined domestically.

Currently, 60% of the concentrate produced by PT Freeport Indonesia is exported, and the remaining 40% is processed domestically at PT Smelting in Gresik, East Java, to become a copper cathode. However, the anode mud, which contains gold and silver, is still being exported by PT Smelting. Further, if the new smelter is operational, the anode mud will be fully processed and purified domestically.

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