Indonesia lifts six-month ban of metal concentrate exports

Indonesia lifts six-month ban of metal concentrate exports

Indonesia has allowed two companies to resume exporting iron ore, lead and zinc concentrates, ending a ban imposed in January to improve returns on resources shipped out of southeast Asia's largest economy.

The shipments, the first of their kind in six months, were allowed after Sebuku Iron Lateritic Ores (SILO) and Lumbung Mineral Sentosa agreed to pay the new 20% tax, Reuters reported.

Copper concentrate shipments, however, remain stranded as US-based copper mining giants Newmont (NYSE:NEM) and Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE:FCX) argue the new tax contravenes their original export contracts. But while Freeport-McMoRan has already reached a preliminary agreement with the government, Newmont’s Indonesian unit filed for international arbitration early this month, and it is risking to lose its mining license in the country if it doesn’t withdraw it soon.

The tax on concentrate exports rises to 60% in the second half of 2016, before a total concentrate export ban in 2017. It is part of the outgoing government's drive to force miners to build smelters and processing plants in Southeast Asia's largest economy.