Govt Reaps $1.6bn from Freeport

JAKARTA ~ American mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. paid the central government US$1.6 billion last year from its vast mining operation in Papua province, mostly in taxes, the company announced this week.

“From January to December 2006, Freeport Indonesia paid its financial obligations to the government of Indonesia in the sum of $1.6 billion,” a statement said.

It said $1.29 billion of the total comprised corporate, employee income and other taxes. Dividends accounted for $159 million and royalties for $146 million.

Freeport Indonesia has paid $5.1 billion to the government since 1992, according to the statement. Taxes accounted for $4.1 billion of the figure, with the remainder comprised of royalties and dividends.

The company said Freeport Indonesia had also invested $5 billion to develop company infrastructure and $500 million in social facilities.

It had also generated direct employment for 9,000 people in 2006, some 27 percent of whom were Papuans, the statement said.

It added the company had provided 10,700 jobs indirectly last year, for example for contract workers or employees at partner firms.

The statement said the firm had also purchased domestic goods and services worth $4.3 billion.

Freeport Indonesia, the local subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan, operates a huge and controversial gold and copper mine in the easternmost province of Papua.

Campaigners have accused the mine of causing environmental damage in Papua. They say it has polluted the World Heritage-listed Lorenz National Park and dumped copper-rich ore around the edge of its operations.

The firm has disputed the claims.

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