Striking miners shot by security forces

INDONESIAN security forces opened fire on striking workers at Freeport-McMoran’s gold and copper mine early today, killing one and critically wounding another, a union official said.

Police said it was too early to comment and officials from Freeport, based in the US state of Arizona, were preparing an official statement.

Workers at the Grasberg mine in easternmost Papua province kicked off a strike on September 15, demanding pay increases to $17.50 to $43 an hour from the current $2.10 to $3.50 an hour. About 90 percent of the mine’s 12,000 employees are taking part.

Union leader Manuel Maniambo said thousands of striking workers headed to the mine in the mountains by bus and by foot to try stop replacement workers.

When security forces tried to block them, they became angry, throwing rocks and yelling insults, he said.

The troops opened fire, killing one worker and leaving another hospitalized in critical condition, said Maniambo.

 It’s the second strike this year at the Grasberg mine.

When workers walked off their jobs for eight days in July – also over low wages and the dismissal of union leaders – the mine suffered production losses of 4 million pounds of copper and 7.5 ounces of gold daily.

That affected the company’s revenue by $30 million a day, analysts said, and the same was expected this time around.

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