Norilsk sees Indonesia ore ban supporting nickel price – by Fergus Jensen (Reuters U.S. – August 1, 2013)

JAKARTA – Aug 1 (Reuters) – Nickel prices could recover next year, when Indonesia brings in a planned ban on unprocessed ore exports, said executives from Russia’s Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of the metal.

Indonesia is the world’s top exporter of nickel laterite ore, which is mostly shipped to China to be used as a cheap substitute for nickel in stainless steel.

A strictly enforced ban on exports of ore would support demand for refined nickel, said Pavel Fedorov, deputy chief executive of Norilsk Nickel, who met government and industry officials in Jakarta to assess how the policy would be implemented.

“We received high-level assurances that there is a game plan in place that would ensure restriction on export of ore would be in place by January and would be subject to very strict rules and regulations,” added Fedorov, who did not name the Indonesian officials he met.

Uncertainty over the policy was hindering investment and disrupting the nickel market, much of which believed the 2014 ban would be delayed “or somehow fudged”, he added.

Indonesia’s nickel ore exports were 24.4 million tonnes in the five months to May, up 30 percent over the same period in 2012, as miners ramped up shipments ahead of the ban.

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