JAKARTA Dec 19 Indonesia's government is
drafting a regulation that could ease a looming export ban for
not only copper concentrates, but also partly processed or raw
nickel and bauxite, the Jakarta Post reported, citing a draft
Under the draft, unprocessed gold, silver, tin and chromium
would remain on the export ban list, the paper said.
Energy and Mining ministry officials could not immediately
be reached for comment, but a spokesman last week said the
ministry was in talks with the Coordinating Ministry for
Economic Affairs to try to reach a solution on easing the ban.
The ore shipments ban, which requires miners to build
smelters to process ore locally and halt mineral exports from
next month, was implemented in January 2014, although last
minute amendments were made to ease its impact.
Traders have been closely watching the situation given
Indonesia is a major producer of metals such as copper and
Helen Lau of Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong said nickel
prices had been supported by a "scarcity premium" so if the ban
were to be relaxed it could pressure prices.
"Nickel prices would fall because the mines will be able to
export again. That will increase supply to China," said Lau,
referring to the top buyer of nickel.
In October, acting mining minister Luhut Pandjaitan said
Indonesia would "almost definitely" keep in place a ban on
nickel ore and bauxite exports.
Asked last week about the issue as debate has continued,
Pandjaitan, now a coordinating minister for maritime affairs who
oversees energy and mineral resources, said there was little
scope to change the export regulation until the existing law was
"Even if a government regulation is issued, it will be
against the law. So, we encourage parliament to review or to fix
this mineral law," Pandjaitan told reporters.
However, a member of the parliamentary commission
overseeing mining had said that it was unlikely a revision to
the law could be concluded before the deadline.
Legal experts say if the government is unable to change the
law to relax a ban it might have to use a government regulation
in lieu of law, known as a Perppu.
Some mining companies have said any resumption of ore
shipments could undermine metal prices and hurt investments that
have already been sunk into processing plants.
But state miner PT Aneka Tambang Tbk (Antam) is
lobbying to allow some exports of nickel ore because it says it
needs funds for downstream investments worth at least $500
(Reporting by Wilda Asmarini in Jakarta and Melanie Burton in
Sydney; Editing by Richard Pullin)