| JAKARTA, April 4
JAKARTA, April 4 A copper smelter venture
between diversified Indonesian miner Aneka Tambang (Antam)
and Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc may not
be ready before a ban on concentrate exports takes effect in
2017, the state-owned firm said.
The two firms began studying the feasibility of a copper
smelter project in January soon after Indonesia halted exports
of unprocessed minerals and ruled that miners must refine metals
domestically by 2017 as well as pay an escalating export tax
that reaches 60 percent in 2016.
The changes will force copper miners to slash output if no
new smelters are ready by 2017, since Indonesia's sole copper
smelter, PT Smelting, can only process a fifth of national
output of copper concentrate.
"We need more time," Antam Chief Executive Tato Miraza told
reporters on Friday, adding that construction of the copper
project his firm is studying would not begin before 2015, at the
"Antam's main focus is the development of the ferronickel
smelter expansion in Pomala and East Halmahera ferronickel
project," Miraza said, referring to two of the firm's nickel
projects hit by the ban on ore shipments.
"It (needs) three years," mineral enterprise director Dede
Suhendra said, referring to the development of the
Antam-Freeport project, though he added the timeframe could be
Other Indonesian copper smelter projects aiming to process
concentrate from Freeport and fellow miner Newmont Mining Corp
were expected to take up to 5 years to build.
Concentrates are an intermediate product between ore and
metal, enriched with minerals as a result of processing.
The pre-feasibility study for the copper project is expected
to be complete by the end of this month, Miraza said.
A delay in the Antam copper project could also hamper this
month's expected resumption of concentrate exports by Freeport
and Newmont after they stopped in January, because of the new
Indonesia is using the project, which would process
concentrate from the two U.S firms, to gauge Freeport's
commitment to the domestic processing rules, with an offer to
adjust the export tax once the project gets underway.
"If it's not ready (by 2017) their concentrate will be
withheld," coal and minerals director general Sukhyar told
reporters, reiterating that the concentrate shipment ban would
kick off as planned.
Freeport targets to sell 2,118,525 tonnes of concentrate
from its Grasberg mine in Indonesia this year.
(Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)