PTFI Advances Infrastructure through the Tailings Utilization Program
21 April 2021
The technical success of a pilot program to demonstrate the responsible use of tailings to build roads and buildings has PT Freeport Indonesia and the country’s government interested in expanding the program far and wide across the island of Papua.
A February shipment of PTFI’s tailings to Merauke – the second shipment to the southeasternmost region of Papua – marked the conclusion of the pilot project that is part of PTFI’s Tailings Utilization Road Map.
Now, the pilot’s technical success already has led to dots all over the map showing areas receiving tailings for new projects – from Sorong, the capital of the neighboring West Papua Province, to the Nugure District closer to Mimika.
“The shipment and tailings utilization will continue as part of the company’s commitment to supporting the government and actively engaging in regional development in Papua,” said Jenpino Ngabdi, Vice President Director and Executive Vice President of PTFI. “We hope this initiative will help to accelerate development in Eastern Indonesia amid all the challenges of fostering equitable development.”
The first batch of tailings delivered to Merauke helped build a 0.6-mile-long public road that included a bridge. A layer of asphalt tailings was used as the road foundation – a method developed by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing.
A series of studies conducted by PTFI and the Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Bandung, West Java, demonstrated that the responsible use of PTFI tailings can meet the government’s standards as a high-quality construction material.
The pilot project also provided more technical evidence to show how tailings can contribute to better roads and public infrastructure in Papua. “Through these projects, tailings will no longer be thought of as waste but as a valuable resource,” said Hedy Rahadian, Director-General Bina Marga, Ministry of Public Works and Housing.
The hope is that access to PTFI tailings as an aggregate material can help drive the development of roads and connect routes in Papua and West Papua.
A Legacy of Tailings Innovation
Tailings from PTFI have been used as an aggregate material for public infrastructure over the years to build roads, bridges and other public facilities in the Mimika Region, including the Mimika Government Office Complex near Kuala Kencana and the Mozes Kilangin Airport in Timika.
The company also manages the Mile Post 21 Biodiversity Park in the Lowlands, which was built entirely above and among a former tailings impoundment. Scores of vegetables and fruit trees grow in the park that also features a herd of cattle and ponds for tilapia and shrimp farms.
“Responsible tailings management is an embodiment of PTFI’s commitment to minimizing operational impacts to the local community and Mimika’s environment,” Ngabdi said. “We also are working together with the government to increase our tailings’ value by creating several byproducts that can be used in Mimika Regency or any other areas in Papua.”
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