Indonesia unlikely to relax ban on nickel ore and bauxite exports – by Wilda Asmarini and Fergus Jensen (Reuters U.S. – October 12, 2016)

JAKARTA – Indonesia will “almost definitely” keep in place a ban on nickel ore and bauxite exports, the country’s mining minister said on Wednesday, just days after it had considered lifting the restriction to raise extra cash in an overhaul of mining rules.

Indonesia banned metal ore exports in early 2014 to encourage miners to build smelters to create jobs and shift exports from raw materials to higher-value finished metals.

But the government has been comprehensively reevaluating the domestic mineral processing requirements, amid concerns that the current deadline for full processing of all minerals by 2017 may not work for certain metals.

The government is also seeking new revenue sources, with a fiscal deficit expected to widen to 219 trillion rupiah ($16.9 billion) this year. The mining sector accounted for almost 6 percent of Indonesia’s GDP before the 2014 ban on metal ore exports, and has since slipped to about 4 percent.

As recently as Friday the government was considering allowing exports of bauxite and up to 15 million tonnes of nickel ore per year, a move that would gain support from state-owned miner Aneka Tambang, but few others in the industry.

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