Through its subsidiary, PT Freeport Indonesia (PT-FI), FCX mines one of the world’s largest copper and gold deposits in the Grasberg minerals district in Papua, Indonesia. In addition to copper and gold, PT-FI produces silver. PT-FI operates in the remote highlands of the Sudirman Mountain Range in the province of Papua, Indonesia, which is on the western half of the island of New Guinea. Since 1967, we and our predecessors have been the only operator of exploration and mining activities in the approximately 24,600-acre operating area.
PT-FI continues to advance several projects in the Grasberg minerals district related to the development of its large-scale, long-lived, high-grade underground ore bodies located beneath and nearby the Grasberg open pit. In aggregate, these underground ore bodies are expected to produce large-scale quantities of copper and gold following the transition from the Grasberg open pit operations where PT-FI is currently mining the final phase.
Substantial progress has been made to prepare for the transition to mining of the Grasberg Block Cave (GBC) underground mine. First undercut blasting occurred in September 2018, first drawbell blasting occurred in December 2018 and cave production is scheduled for the first half of 2019. All underground mining levels and the ore flow system are being commissioned. As PT-FI transitions mining from the open pit to underground, its production is expected to be significantly lower in 2019 and 2020, compared to 2018. Metal production is expected to improve significantly by 2021 following a ramp-up period. GBC production rates over the next five years are expected to ramp up to 130,000 metric tons of ore per day.