Tembagapura: Company’s Quaint and Secluded Mining Town Celebrates its Golden Anniversary
03 March 2023
Nestled on a sleepy valley on the slope of the magnificent Mount Zaagkam, today, Tembagapura celebrates 50 years as the home and community for those who work at PT Freeport Indonesia’s Grasberg minerals district.
The quaint town was designated a mining town by the government and inaugurated March 3, 1973, by Indonesian President Suharto. The name Tembagapura translates to copper town in English – an appropriate name given the Grasberg minerals district has one of the world’s largest reserves of copper with gold and silver as associated metals, Grasberg minerals district also has roughly 27,000 workers. You can watch the Tembagapura documentary by clicking here.
Despite the later additions of the Jakarta office and the satellite town of Kuala Kencana in the Lowlands, Tembagapura remains the focal point of Grasberg operations. Like the mine it supports, Tembagapura has grown and now includes the Ridge Camp accommodation at Mile Post 72. With a population of 23,000 employees and family members, it has more than doubled since 2003.
Tembagapura was built between 1970-1972 and sits at more than 6,500 feet above sea level, giving it a pleasant, cool climate year-round. It’s location in Papua’s central mountain range means Tembagapura’s weather can change from a nice, sunny day to a foggy, wet and rainy day in an instant. Fun fact: umbrellas are among the top selling items in this tiny community.
While small and remote, Tembagapura has top-notch amenities that include two restaurants, two cafes, a bar, a sports center, grocery stores, a hospital, schools, churches, a mosque, and other facilities that contribute to the high quality of life for employees and their families.
A Quintessential Mining Community
Despite its beautiful landscape and amenities, Tembagapura’s uniqueness is its people. Since its inauguration 50 years ago, the town has attracted tens of thousands of people from around Indonesia and the world, making Tembagapura the quintessential mining community.
Many Freeporters are second and even third generation employees. Carl Tauran, PTFI Executive Vice President-Site Operations and Technical Mine Manager, and Youlla Usagani, Youlla Usagani, Superintendent-Executive and General Support, Jakarta Office are two proud AGuTe — an acronym for Anak Gunung Tembagapura, or Tembagapura Mountain Kids. These are second and third generation employees who spent their childhood in Tembagapura — or were even born in the town — and now work in the organization just like their parents did.
“Tembagapura is much more than home to mine workers. We live with local people, creating a generation that contributes to the development of civilization; Tembagapura definitely contributed to it,” said Tauran who has been with the company 29 years.
For Usagani, a second generation AGuTe, Tembagapura’s diversity and openness to people from vast backgrounds has a special meaning to her.
“Tembagapura is a perfect example of a cultural melting pot in the middle of nowhere; people from various backgrounds and beliefs mingled to work hand-in-hand for a better future for Papua, Indonesia. Tembagapura is home; I’m proud to be born here and call it hometown,” she said.
To commemorate and celebrate Tembagapura’s golden milestone, the company is throwing a series of parties for community members who live in one of the most unique places in the world. So don’t miss all the fun!
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