JAKARTA Aug 29 Indonesia's chamber of commerce
mining committee is lobbying president-elect Joko Widodo to
relax a seven-month-old ban on unprocessed ore exports and look
for better ways to use the natural resources of Southeast Asia's
In January, the government imposed the ban and an escalating
export tax regime on metal concentrates to force miners to
process raw materials in Indonesia instead of exporting them.
Analysts have warned the ban on ore shipments could cost
Indonesia up to $400 million a month in lost exports. The
regulations have been heavily criticised, but the government
says that while it can change the tax scheme, the ore ban is
written in a law it cannot change.
The government last month eased the export taxes to allow
Freeport-McMoRan and other miners building smelters to
resume shipments. Now bauxite and nickel miners are hoping
Widodo will do the same for them and lift the ban on mineral ore
after he takes office on Oct. 20.
"This policy has made a situation where our natural
resources wealth doesn't make a contribution (to the economy),"
mining committee chairman Poltak Sitanggang told reporters.
"The 2009 (mining) law never banned mineral exports. It just
says there should be 'controls'," he said.
Sitanggang, who is also chairman of the Indonesian Mineral
Entrepreneurs Association, is also challenging the ore export
ban policy at Indonesia's Constitutional Court, the country's
highest legal authority.
Indonesia's director general of coal and minerals, Sukhyar,
who will remain in his current post under Widodo's leadership,
defended the ban on unprocessed mineral exports on Friday, and
said that allowing exports would be against the law, and that no
further evaluation of the policy was necessary.
President-elect Widodo has indicated that he agrees with the
ban in principle, although he has also said he would be willing
to sit down with miners to "find a good
(Additional reporting by Wilda Asmarini; Editing by Randy Fabi
and Tom Hogue)