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February 21, 2022updated 05 Jun 2022 4:09pm

PT Smelting begins construction of copper smelter expansion in Indonesia

The expansion will boost the smelter’s output from current 300,000 tonnes to 342,000 tonnes of copper cathode.

Indonesia-based PT Smelting, a joint venture between Mitsubishi Materials and Freeport Indonesia, has started construction on a $231m copper smelting facility expansion project.

The expansion is aimed at boosting the production capacity of the smelting plant in Gresik District, East Java Province, from the existing 300,000t to 342,000t of copper cathode.

This project is also expected to boost the processing capacity of the smelter from the current one million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 1.3Mtpa of copper concentrate.

Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said: “With the expansion at the first mineral refinery plant in Indonesia, there are 3.3 million tonnes of concentrate, which will later be processed so that Gresik becomes a centre for copper downstreaming.

“In the future, with renewable energy, electric vehicles and solar panels all require copper. Therefore, the downstreaming of derivative products needs to be continuously encouraged, especially for the need to produce electronic products.”

Representing PT Smelting’s fourth expansion since its commissioning in 1999, the project will also add a new sulphuric acid plant, increase electrolysis cells in the refinery, and improve the capacity of some equipment in the smelter.

PT Smelting comprises three factories, notably a smelter; a refinery; and a sulphuric acid plant; and processes copper concentrate produced by Freeport-McMoRan subsidiary Freeport Indonesia.

This copper concentrate is sourced from Freeport Indonesia’s Grasberg mine in the Papua region, Indonesia.

Airlangga added: “The strength of the copper industry in Indonesia will continue to be improved and the cluster in Gresik certainly needs to be encouraged so that the Gresik Regent can also become the Regent of Copper.”

According to estimates, Indonesia holds copper ore reserves of 3.1 billion tonnes. It has a production rate of 100Mtpa.

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