By Yayat Supriatna and Michael Taylor
JAKARTA Jan 11 U.S. mining giant Freeport
McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc halted its copper exports
from Indonesia, less than an hour before a controversial mineral
export ban comes into effect, a union official told Reuters late
Indonesia on Sunday will impose a ban on more than $10
billion worth of annual copper, nickel and other unprocessed
mineral ore shipments, a move that industry officials warn could
lead to mass layoffs, mine closures and depleted foreign
The Southeast Asian nation is the world's biggest exporter
of nickel ore, refined tin and thermal coal and home to the
fifth largest copper mine and top gold mine.
The ban aims to boost Indonesia's long-term return from its
mineral wealth, but officials fear a short-term cut in foreign
revenue could widen the current account deficit, which has
undermined investor confidence and battered the rupiah.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and cabinet ministers met
late into the evening on Saturday to discuss whether to approve
last-minute regulations that would ease the ban.
"There will be no concentrate exports from Freeport
Indonesia in Papua as long as there is no government policy
providing certainty on concentrate exports," said union official
Virgo Solossa, adding that the firm has not made a shipment from
its port since Dec. 15.
Company spokeswoman Daisy Primayanti said Freeport continued
to ship copper to its local smelter for use domestically.
"We hope the government will issue the new implementing
regulations soon," she said.
Freeport, the country's dominant copper produce with 73
percent market share, last month warned an unrevised ban would
cut output at its Grasberg mine by 60 percent and lead to
layoffs of half of its 15,000 Indonesian employees.
Indonesian miner Perusahaan Perseroan Aneka Tambang (Antam)
has also stopped its nickel ore exports due to the ban, said the
firm's corporate secretary Tri Hartono.
Under the proposal being reviewed by the president,
Freeport, Newmont Mining Corp and other miners would
still be allowed to export copper, manganese, lead, zinc and
iron ore concentrate until 2017. But nickel ore and bauxite
exports worth more than $2 billion annually would still be
banned from Sunday, while coal and tin shipments would not be
Thousands of mine workers have already been laid off as more
than 100 junior miners halt operations ahead of the ban.
"We call on all mining workers to prepare to go on the
streets and swarm the presidential palace if the government goes
ahead with the implementation of the ban," said Juan Forti
Silalahi of the National Mine Workers Union in a statement
earlier on Saturday.