Indonesian minister expedites ore export ban

Indonesian President Joko Widodo – Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Indonesia’s Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said he has signed a new regulation on restricting ore exports, according to a voice recording verified by a ministry spokesman.

Jonan, speaking to journalists in Yogyakarta, said nickel ore exports will be allowed until end-December.

The ban will be expedited from a previous January 2022 date “according to the President’s direction,” Jonan said in the recording.

Indonesia has 13 operating smelters with nearly 25 million tonnes input capacity, mostly producing nickel pig iron and ferronickel

Indonesian President Joko Widodo in a speech to the parliament earlier this month vowed that the government will push for more onshore processing for its natural resources to increase their value before exporting.

Further details of the new rules will be provided next week, ministry spokesman Agung Pribadi said.

Indonesia banned ore exports in 2014 but reopened them for certain minerals in 2017 to give miners time to build smelters to process minerals such as nickel, bauxite and copper.

Indonesia now allows miners to export low-grade nickel only.

Talk of the ban has sent prices of nickel soaring on the Shanghai and London markets.

The Indonesian nickel miners association has said banning exports earlier than expected would stall financing for their smelters, which comes from exports revenue.

The country, as of July, has 13 operating smelters with nearly 25 million tonnes input capacity, mostly producing nickel pig iron and ferronickel, government data shows.

The ministry this week also issued rules laying down penalties for companies which fail to build smelters according to the development plan presented to government.

(By Wilda Asmarini, Bernadette Christina Munthe and Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by David Evans)

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