Indonesia eases export ban on nickel ore, bauxite – by Wilda Asmarini and Bernadette Christina Munthe (Reuters U.S. – January 12, 2017)

JAKARTA – Indonesia introduced new rules on Thursday that will allow exports of nickel ore and bauxite and concentrates of other minerals under certain conditions, in a sweeping policy shift from the key global supplier.

The broad changes cover areas including permit extensions, which can now be applied for up to five years in advance of expiry, and rules on divestment.

The changes also require nickel and bauxite miners to dedicate at least 30 percent of their smelter capacity to process low-grade ore, defined as below 1.7 percent nickel or below 42 percent aluminum.

However, the remaining low-grade ore can potentially be exported, Coal and Minerals Director General Bambang Gatot told reporters. “Where, considering their installed (smelter) capacity, they can’t absorb production, (ore) will be allowed to be sold overseas,” he said.

The policy backflip was welcomed by state-controlled PT Aneka Tambang Tbk, whose revenues were hit hard after Indonesia banned nickel ore exports in 2014.”Regional economies will grow, (and) mining areas that died because of the export ban can grow again,” Antam CEO Tedy Badrujaman told Reuters on Thursday.

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