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Freeport-McMoRan Inc.
Public company
Traded as NYSEFCX
S&P 500 Component
Industry Metals and Mining
Petroleum industry
Founded 1912; 105 years ago (1912)
Headquarters Freeport-McMoRan Center, Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Area served
Key people
Gerald J. Ford
Richard Adkerson
(Vice Chairman President & CEO)
Kathleen L. Quirk
(Executive Vice President, CFO & Treasurer)[1]
Products Copper
Revenue Decrease US$15.877 billion (2015)[1]
Decrease US$-13.382 billion (2015)[1]
Decrease US$-12.089 billion (2015)[1]
Total assets Decrease US$46.577 billion (2015)[1]
Total equity Decrease US$12.044 billion (2015)[1]
Number of employees
34,500, including:
12,400 in the U.S.
12,100 in Indonesia
5,200 in South America
3,400 in Africa
1,400 in Europe and other locations[1]
Subsidiaries PT Freeport Indonesia
PT Irja Eastern Minerals
Atlantic Copper, S.A.

Freeport-McMoRan Inc., (FMCG) often called Freeport, is a mining company based in the Freeport-McMoRan Center in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, United States.

Current Operations[edit]

Freeport is the largest copper and molybdenum producer in the world.[1]

In 2015, 67% of revenues were from the sale of copper, 11% were from the sale of petroleum, 10% from the sale of gold, and 5% from the sale of molybdenum.[1]

In 2015, sales to Phillips 66 accounted for 7% of the total revenues of the company.[1]

The company lists its mining operations as follows:

North America[edit]

South America[edit]




Freeport Sulphur No.6 entering Freeport, Texas, harbor, 1923

The company was founded as the Texas Freeport Sulphur Company in 1912 as a sulfur mining company in Freeport, Texas.[13]

In 1928, concerned that the management of the company was not moving aggressively to increase reserves, 25-year old investor Langbourne Meade Williams, Jr. collaborated with Payne Whitney to launch a proxy fight and gain control of the company.[14]

Freeport pioneered mining sulphur at mines along the US Gulf Coast using the Frasch Process.[15]

The company began to diversify in 1931, purchasing manganese deposits in Oriente Province, Cuba.[16]


The company produced nickel during World War II and potash in the 1950s.[17]

In 1955, Freeport invested $119 million in constructing a nickel-cobalt mine at Moa Bay, Cuba, and a refinery at Port Nickel, Louisiana. On March 11, 1957, the U.S. government announced a contract to buy Freeport nickel and cobalt from Cuba until June 30, 1965, as strategic commodities. Fidel Castro's government nationalized the Cuban facility in 1960.[18]

In 1956, the company formed Freeport Oil Company.[17]

In 1958, the company sold an oil discovery near Lake Washington in Louisiana for approximately $100 million to Magnolia Petroleum Company.[17]


In 1961, the company entered the kaolin business after purchasing the assets of Southern Clays Inc.[17]

In 1964, the company formed Freeport of Australia to pursue mining opportunities there and in the surrounding Pacific Ocean region.[17]

Development of the Ertsberg deposit[edit]

In 1960, Freeport geologists confirmed the Dutch discovery of the rich Ertsberg copper and gold deposits, now known as the Grasberg mine, in extremely rugged, remote country in the Jayawijaya Mountains in then-Netherlands New Guinea.[19]

In 1966, Freeport founded Freeport Indonesia, Inc. The subsidiary negotiated a contract with the Indonesian government to develop the Ertsberg deposit. In their feasibility study, Freeport geologists estimated that the orebody totaled 33 million tons averaging 2.5% copper. The Ertsberg was the largest above-ground copper deposit ever discovered.[20] Construction of an open pit mine began in May 1970 and in mid-1973 the mine was declared fully operational. Officials at Bechtel, the primary project contractor, called mine development at Ertsberg "the most difficult engineering project they had ever undertaken." The challenges included building a 101 kilometres (63 mi) long access road (a project that required boring kilometer long tunnels through two mountains) and constructing the world's longest single span aerial tramway. The tramways were needed to move people, supplies and ore because a 2,000 feet (610 m) cliff separates the Ertsberg mine (at 12,000 feet (3,700 m) elevation) from the mill (at 10,000 feet). Moving copper concentrate from that mill to the shipping port required installation of a 109 kilometres (68 mi) slurry pipeline — then the world's longest. Mine construction and startup cost about US$200 million. The Ertsberg project was an engineering marvel, but the mine's early financial performance was disappointing. Depressed copper prices and high operating costs kept profits marginal during the 1970s.[20]


In 1971, the company changed its name to Freeport Minerals Company to reflect its role as a diversified mineral producer.[19]


In 1981, Freeport Minerals Company merged with the McMoRan Oil and Gas Company. The McMoRan Oil and Gas Company was founded in 1967 by three partners, William Kennon McWilliams Jr. ("Mc"), James Robert (Jim Bob) Moffett ("Mo"), who were both petroleum geologists, and Byron McLean Rankin, Jr. ("Ran"), "a specialist in land-leasing and sales operations." [19] Kent McWilliams (died 1997) was as knowledgeable of the micro-paleontology of the Louisiana and Texas coasts as any geologist of the twentieth century. McMoRan's incredible record in hitting paydirt was based on the fundamental petro-geological learning of the founder and the young geologist he began mentoring in the early 1960s.

In 1981, the company formed a 70/30 joint venture with an affiliate of FMC Corporation to operate a gold mine in Jerrit Canyon, Nevada.[21]

In 1982, Freeport Gold Company was the world's largest gold producer, producing 196,000 troy ounces (6,100 kg) of gold in its first full year of operation.[17]

In 1985, the company headquarters were moved to New Orleans, Louisiana.[14]

In 1985, the company sold a 25% interest in some oil and gas reserves to Britoil for $73.5 million.[22]

In 1989, Freeport sold about $1.5 billion in assets to finance the development of the Grasberg mine and the Main Pass sulfur-oil-gas deposit offshore from Louisiana.[23]


In 1994, Freeport-McMoRan spun off its entire interest in Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, which became an independent company, fully focused on the Indonesian operation.

In 1995, RTZ, a predecessor of Rio Tinto made a $450 million investment in the company.[24]

In 1997, IMC Global, a large fertilizer producer, acquired Freeport-McMoRan Inc., the former parent company that now owned the sulfur and fertilizer businesses, in a $750 million transaction. Shareholders of Freeport-McMoRan received shares of IMC Global.[25]

The Indonesian government asked Freeport to substantiate Bre-X's claims of having found the largest gold mine ever discovered. In 1997, the company announced that its prospective partner Bre-X did not have gold reserves at its Indonesian mine, as it had reported. Bre-X subsequently was exposed as a fraud and went bankrupt.[26]

In 1998, low commodity prices forced the company to suspend its dividend.[27]


In 2003, the company was subpoenas as a result of an investigation by anti-trust authorities in the United States, Canada, and Europe regarding price fixing in the copper industry.[28]

In 2006, the company acquired Phelps Dodge to become the world's largest public copper company with an enterprise value of $37.5 billion. The corporate headquarters was moved from New Orleans, Louisiana to Phoenix, Arizona.[29]

In 2012, the company announced agreements to acquire affiliated companies McMoRan Exploration Company and Plains Exploration & Production Company for a total enterprise value of over $20 billion. The transaction added significantly to the company's petroleum assets.[30] The transactions were criticized as being a conflict of interest due to the common ownership of the companies.[31]

In 2014, the company sold assets in the Eagle Ford shale to Encana for $3.1 billion.[32]

In 2015, the company announced job cuts at its Sierrita Mine in Arizona due to low copper and molybdenum prices.[33]

In 2016, the company announced the sale of a 13% interest in its Morenci Mine to Sumitomo Group for $1 billion in cash.[34]

Management history[edit]

Notable historical members of the board of directors have included: John Hay Whitney, Kidder, Peabody & Co., Chauncey Stillman, Godfrey Stillman Rockefeller, Augustus Long, Robert A. Lovett, Jean Mauzé, Henry Kissinger 1988-1995, and George Putnam of Putnam Investments.

On December 28, 2015, the company announced that James R. Moffett would step down as chairman of the company and would be replaced as chairman by Gerald J. Ford. Moffett received $16.1 million in severance pay and cash retirement plans totaling more than $63 million. Moffett continued to consult for the company for annual fees of $1.5 million.[35]

The current board members are listed on the company website.[36]

Environmental, human rights, and corruption controversies at the Grasberg Mine[edit]

Freeport operates the world's largest and most profitable gold mine, the Grasberg mine in Papua, Indonesia.

In 2005, The New York Times reported that Freeport paid local military and police generals, colonels, majors and captains, and military units, a total of nearly US$20 million between 1998 and 2004. One individual received up to US$150,000. The payments were meant to secure the reserve. Freeport responded that the payments were not for individuals, but rather for infrastructure, food, housing, fuel, travel, vehicle repairs and allowances to cover incidental and administrative costs. According to the report, anonymous sources within the company also claimed that company chairman James R. Moffet courted Indonesia's dictator and "his cronies", cutting them in on deals. Another employee is said to have worked on a program to monitor environmentalists' e-mails and telephone conversations, in cooperation with Indonesian military intelligence officers.[37]

The Grasberg mine's tailings "severely impacted" more than 11 square miles (28 km2) of rainforest, according to a 1996 Dames & Moore environmental audit.[38] The report, endorsed by Freeport, also estimates that during the life of the mine 3.2 billion tons of waste rock—a great part of which generates acid—will be dumped into the local river system. Overburden (waste rock) from the mine has polluted a nearby lake due to acid mine drainage.[38]

Citing extensive, long-term and irreversible environmental damage in New Guinea, The Government Pension Fund of Norway has excluded Freeport-McMoRan from its investment portfolio, following a recommendation from the fund's ethical council.[39]


Production at the mine has been affected by several strikes:

On October 17, 2011, the company halted operations in Papua amid a strike that led to a deteriorating security situation and intensified calls for Papuan independence. Seventy percent of Grasberg workers joined the strike, appealing for higher pay September 15, 2011, blocking roads, clashing with police and cutting the pipeline in several places.[40]

In October 2014, around 1,000 workers stayed home and demanded the firing of 50 managers as a result of a fatal accident at the Grasberg mine. Production declined to 60-70% of normal levels as a result of the strike.[41]

In 2015, a 5-day strike halted production at the mine as around 100 employees demanded bonuses as an incentive for not participating in a work stoppage during 2014.[42]

Environmental record[edit]

The Political Economy Research Institute ranks Freeport-McMoRan #41 among corporations emitting airborne pollutants in the U.S. The ranking is based on emission quantities (4.5 million pounds in 2013) and toxicity.[43]

Human rights record[edit]

Freeport-McMoRan is a signatory participant of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.[44] However, the company has been accused of funding the Indonesian government to secure its reserve through militaristic oppression of the native West Papuan people. See Papua Conflict


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Freeport-McMoRan 2015 Form 10-K Annual Report
  2. ^ Freeport McMoRan: Morenci Mine
  3. ^ Freeport McMoRan: Bagdad Mine
  4. ^ Freeport McMoRan: Sierrita Mine
  5. ^ Freeport McMoRan: Miami Mine
  6. ^ Freeport McMoRan: Safford Mine
  7. ^ Freeport McMoRan: Chino Mine
  8. ^ Freeport McMoRan: Tyrone Mine
  9. ^ Freeport McMoRan: Henderson mine
  10. ^ Freeport McMoRan: Climax Mine
  11. ^ Atlantic Copper
  12. ^ "Grasberg Minerals District". Freeport-McMoRan. Retrieved 9 February 2017. 
  13. ^ Freeport article, Handbook of Texas
  14. ^ a b John Holusha (September 14, 1994). "Langbourne Williams Is Dead; Retired Businessman Was 91". New York Times. 
  15. ^ Texas State Historical Association: Sulfur Industry
  16. ^ Sulfur: History, Technology, Applications, and Infrastructure
  17. ^ a b c d e f Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc. History
  18. ^ Sherritt - Moa Bay Nickel
  19. ^ a b c Freeport-McMoRan: Our History
  20. ^ a b Opening the Ertsberg District
  21. ^ "A Gold Rush in Nevada's Hills is Spurred by New Technology". New York Times. April 22, 1981. 
  22. ^ "Freeport-Britoil". New York Times. March 21, 1985. 
  23. ^ "Freeport-McMoran Is Selling More Assets". New York Times. Reuters. December 18, 1990. 
  24. ^ "Shares Sold in Mining Unit". New York Times. May 13, 1995. 
  25. ^ Allen R. Myerson (July 29, 1997). "IMC to Buy Freeport-McMoran Inc. for $750 Million". New York Times. 
  26. ^ "No gold at Bre-X site". CNNMoney. May 5, 1997. 
  27. ^ "Freeport Drops Dividend". New York Times. December 10, 1998. 
  28. ^ PAUL MELLER (May 15, 2003). "U.S., Europe and Canada Investigate Copper Pricing". New York Times. 
  29. ^ "Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold to Acquire Phelps Dodge, Creating the World’s Largest Publicly Traded Copper Company" (Press release). Business Wire. November 19, 2006. 
  30. ^ "Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. to Acquire Plains Exploration & Production Company and McMoRan Exploration Co. in Transactions Totaling $20 Billion, Creating a Premier U.S. Based Natural Resource Company" (Press release). PRNewswire. December 5, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Freeport’s Deals Epitomize Industry’s Conflicts of Interest". New York Times. December 5, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Freeport-McMoRan Announces Agreement to Sell Eagle Ford Interests for $3.1 Billion" (Press release). Business Wire. May 7, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Freeport-McMoRan announces 460 jobs lost at Sierrita Mine". News 4 Tucson. November 5, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Freeport-McMoRan Announces Agreement to Sell a 13% Interest in Morenci Mine for $1.0 Billion in Cash" (Press release). Business Wire. February 15, 2016. 
  35. ^ Russ Wiles (December 28, 2015). "Moffett resigns as Freeport-McMoRan chairman". AZ Central. 
  36. ^ Freeport McMoran: Board of Directors
  37. ^ Perlez, Jane; Bonner, Raymond (December 27, 2005). "Below a Mountain of Wealth, a River of Waste". New York Times. 
  38. ^ a b Robert Bryce (September 1996). "Spinning Gold". Mother Jones Magazine. Retrieved April 4, 2015. 
  39. ^ "Two companies - Wal-Mart and Freeport - are being excluded from the Norwegian Government Pension Fund - Global’s investment universe". Norwegian Ministry of Finance. June 6, 2006. 
  40. ^ "Freeport halts work amid sabotage, separatist pleas". October 18, 2011. 
  41. ^ Wilda Asmarini and Dennys Kapa (October 28, 2014). "Freeport Indonesia copper mine output drops due to strike -govt". Reuters. 
  42. ^ Larry Darrell (March 23, 2015). "A five-day strike by workers at Freeport-McMoRan’s Indonesian copper mine ended Saturday". Business etc. 
  43. ^ "PERI: Home". Archived from the original on 2015-11-18. Retrieved 2013-01-16. 
  44. ^ Freeport McMoran: Human Rights

Company publications[edit]

External links[edit]