Resumption of nickel exports may upend corporate plans
JAKARTA — Indonesia’s surprise decision on the evening of Jan. 12, after the markets closed, to ease its mineral export ban sent ripples through Asia’s nickel industry. Shares of nickel producers in the region plummeted the day after the announcement on fears of a sudden supply surge.
Vale Indonesia, Indonesia’s largest nickel producer and the local unit of Brazilian mining giant Vale, saw its share price plunge more than 15%, while Philippine miner Nickel Asia tumbled more than 10% at one point. Australia’s Western Areas fell nearly 20%, prompting one Australian media report to describe Jakarta’s decision as a “Black Friday blow.”
One company, though, stood out in the crowd. Indonesian state miner Aneka Tambang saw its shares jump 6%. That was because the government decided to allow exports of low-grade nickel ore – defined as ore containing less than 1.7% nickel to resume — raising hopes that Antam, as the company is better known, can reap benefits from the decision.
“We welcome [the new policy], notably as it allows the export of potentially mined low grade nickel ore which is yet to be used or processed domestically,” Antam President Tedy Badrujaman said in a press statement.
But the boost turned out to be short-lived. Antam’s share price has since failed to maintain momentum and dropped 6.9% on Jan. 24 to 805 rupiah ($0.06) — lower than in the days before the announcement — where its closing price remained on Jan. 27.
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