JAKARTA, June 20 (Reuters) – Indonesia is drafting a new mining export tax that would more than halve the base rate to be paid by miners but doubts remain whether it would be accepted by major copper miners and end a five-month-old dispute that has halted concentrate exports.
Indonesia’s main copper concentrate producers Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc and Newmont Mining Corp stopped exports in January when the government introduced new mining rules, including an escalating export tax.
The two U.S. companies have previously insisted they should not have to pay any additional taxes because it would violate their current mining contracts, casting doubt on whether even a lower tax rate would be accepted by the miners.
Coal and Minerals Director General Sukhyar said on Friday the new draft regulation meant the export tax would start below 10 percent and would be linked to a company’s progress in building a smelter.
“Yesterday I had discussions with the finance ministry and they said the draft is already finalized,” Sukhyar told reporters, adding that it been agreed by the mining, industry and finance ministries.
Finance Minister Chatib Basri said on Friday the draft tax regulation still needed to be approved by chief economics minister Chairul Tanjung and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The CEOs of both the companies have been in Jakarta in recent days to meet with Tanjung in a renewed government push to find a solution.
It is not known whether the CEOs are still in Jakarta.
Sukhyar said both the U.S. miners had agreed to pay the new export tax rate. However, neither firm would confirm whether a reduced rate would be acceptable.
“We have not received it yet,” Newmont spokesman Rubi Purnomo said in an email about the new draft export regulation and rate.
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