Indonesia to maintain trade surplus despite mineral ore ban

JAKARTA Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:34pm EST

JAKARTA, Feb 12 (Reuters), - Indonesia will maintain its trade surplus this year even as it implements a mineral export ban which has so far halted $500 million worth of monthly ore and concentrate shipments, a senior government official said on Wednesday.

"We are ready to take the consequences. There will be a little bit of suffering in exports this year and maybe a little bit early next year," Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi told reporters.

"But we will definitely keep a trade surplus this year."

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Jan. 12 imposed new mining rules, including the controversial ore export ban and progressive export taxes on concentrates, aimed at forcing miners to build smelters and process their raw materials in Indonesia.

The policies have forced U.S. mining giants Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold and Newmont Mining Corp to halt all exports, as both firms say the export tax breaches their mining contracts and it is not economically viable to make such large smelter investments in Indonesia.