Challenges in Indonesia Mining Operations

Our operating, inactive and historical U.S. mining sites and facilities may be subject to future regulation of radioactive materials that are commonly associated with, or result from, our mining operations.

A number of federal and state agencies are considering new regulations to characterize, regulate and remediate potential workplace exposures and environmental impacts of radioactive materials commonly associated with mining operations. For example, the EPA could promulgate rules to regulate technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials (TENORM) and their impacts at mining operations. In addition, several states are promulgating groundwater quality compliance and remediation standards for radioactive materials, including uranium. Radioactive materials can be associated with copper mineral deposits, including both our current and discontinued operations. Consequently, our copper operations may generate, concentrate or release radioactive materials that may subject our operations to new and increased regulation. The impact of such future regulation on our operating, closure, reclamation, and remediation costs is uncertain.

Our Indonesia mining operations create difficult and costly environmental challenges, and future changes in environmental laws, or unanticipated environmental impacts from those operations, could require us to incur increased costs.

Mining operations on the scale of our operations in Papua involve significant environmental risks and challenges. Our primary challenge is to dispose of the large amount of crushed and ground rock material, called tailings, that results from the process by which we physically separate the copper-, gold- and silver-bearing materials from the ore that we mine. Our tailings management plan, which has been approved by the Government of Indonesia, uses the river system near our mine to transport the tailings to an engineered area in the lowlands where the tailings and natural sediments are managed in a deposition area. Lateral levees have been engineered and constructed to limit and help contain the footprint of tailings impact in the lowlands.

Another major environmental challenge is managing overburden, which is the rock that must be moved aside in the mining process in order to reach the ore. In the presence of air, water and naturally occurring bacteria, some overburden can generate acid rock drainage, or acidic water containing dissolved metals which, if not properly managed, can have a negative impact on the environment.

Certain Indonesian governmental officials have from time to time raised questions with respect to our tailings and overburden management plans, including a suggestion that we implement a pipeline system rather than our river transport system for tailings management and disposition. Because our mining operations are remotely located in steep mountainous terrain and in an active seismic area, a pipeline system would be costly, difficult to construct and maintain, and more prone to catastrophic failure, and could therefore involve significant potentially adverse environmental issues. Based on our own studies and others conducted by third parties, we do not believe that a pipeline system is necessary or practical. (cement plant in Indonesia)

In connection with obtaining our environmental approvals from the Indonesian government, we committed to perform a one-time environmental risk assessment on the impacts of our tailings management plan. We completed this extensive environmental risk assessment with more than 90 scientific studies conducted over four years and submitted it to the Indonesian government in December 2002.
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Papua New Guinea – Presentation of New Ireland

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