The largest U.S. industrial labor union suggested publicly Wednesday that Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., a top global gold producer, is violating the law by bribing police in Indonesia.
The United Steelworkers said in a news release that they asked the U.S. Justice Department to immediately begin to investigate whether Freeport-McMoRan has been bribing security forces in Indonesia.
The union's news release goes on to say that local media quoted Indonesian police as acknowledging that they accepted millions of dollars from Freeport-McMoRan's Indonesian subsidiary PT Freeport to provide security for the miner's operations in Papua, Indonesia.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bans companies from paying foreign officials to do or omit to do an act in violation of his or her lawful duty, the union said in its statement.
PT Freeport's huge Grasberg gold and copper mining complex has been the object of a sometimes violent strike since Sept. 15, 2011. Commerical activity has been affected by the strike.
The union that is striking has notified the company that it intends to extend its job action to Nov. 15, 2011.
On Tuesday the company said it will take a month to fix its main sabotage-hit pipeline to take concentrate from the world's second-biggest copper mine to its port, where there are no stockpiles left for shipping.
No further concentrate was heading from the massive Grasberg mine to its port in the remote Papua region either, the Phoenix-based company said, implying the force majeure that it declared last week on some concentrate sales could be expanded or extended in length.
Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold briefly halted production at Grasberg in mid-October because of sabotage to the pipeline and said on Tuesday it is still only operating and producing ore at reduced levels.
Shares of Freeport-McMoRan rose in early afternoon trading 47 cents to $39.23.