JAKARTA (Reuters) – Miners have welcomed proposed changes to Indonesian mining rules under a new law aimed at boosting investment, though critics are concerned that the changes could underpin an expansion in polluting coal and threaten environment protection.
President Joko Widodo’s sprawling “Job Creation” bill seeks to change about 80 laws affecting many business sectors, including mining, in order to fix rules deemed cumbersome for investors.
Indonesia is a top exporter of thermal coal, tin and nickel products, but overall mining investment dropped from 79 trillion rupiah ($5.8 billion) in 2017 to 59 trillion rupiah ($4.3 billion) last year, data from its investment board showed.
Miners are most supportive of a provision in the bill that would set a mining area’s size based on a work plan submitted for government approval. The measure would replace current rules that would limit the size of coal mines to 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) and other mineral mines to 25,000 hectares when miners convert their contracts to a new license.
The bill would also allow miners to receive an initial 30-year mining permit that could be extended periodically for as long as the mine’s lifespan but only if the miner invests in downstream ore smelting or coal gasification projects.