Indonesia draft rule could ease export ban on nickel, bauxite: paper (Reuters U.S. – December 19, 2016)

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 regulation.

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 nickel. 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.

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