Indonesia tells tin industry to be prepared for an export ban

One of PT Timah’s offshore operations in Indonesia. (Reference image courtesy of PT Timah).

Indonesian authorities are preparing data and assessing current industry conditions to be ready in the event that the government decides to bring in a ban on tin exports, a senior mining ministry official said on Wednesday.

The Southeast Asian country, which is the world’s top tin exporter, has already moved to halt shipments of a number of other metals in order to develop more processing at home.

Ridwan Djamaludin said authorities were trying to assess how much time Indonesia needed to develop industries that could absorb its tin ingot production, in case the government decided to stop exports.

“When the policy is issued, we should not be surprised,” he told an industry conference, asking participants to seek partners and prepare for potential investments in the downstream industry.

“If we want to ban exports, it means we have to be able to process them domestically and that would require a certain amount of investment and time,” he told reporters on the sideline of the event.

Indonesia only consumes 5% of its tin metal production and has been exporting ingots with over 90% purity.

Asked when Indonesia would stop exporting the metal, Ridwan said he did not know and any decision was in the hands of the top government officials.

Indonesia’s nickel ore export ban has attracted massive investment into nickel metal plants and President Joko Widodo had repeatedly said he wanted to replicate that policy for bauxite and tin.

Meanwhile, the state auditor is currently conducting an audit into tin mining, Ridwan said, to make sure that tin ore is mined from proper sites and in line with regulations.

Illegal mining has been rampant over the years in Indonesia’s Bangka Belitung province, the country’s main tin producing area.

(By Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Martin Petty and Ed Davies)

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