* Newmont says still shipping to Indonesia's Gresik copper
* Says export talks with the government continue
* Had forecast its 2014 Indonesian copper output at
(Recasts with Newmont denial, adds company comments)
By Michael Taylor and Wilda Asmarini
JAKARTA, March 26 Newmont Mining Corp
has not cut output at its Indonesian copper and gold mine, a
spokesman at the Denver-based company said on Wednesday, denying
government claims earlier in the day that its production had
Indonesia implemented a ban on mineral ore exports and
introduced an escalating export tax for concentrates on Jan. 12
to encourage mineral processing domestically in order to
increase the value of exports. However, the new rules have left
the mining sector in turmoil.
Newmont and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, who
account for 97 percent of Indonesia's total copper output, have
both halted copper concentrate exports while talks with the
government over the export tax rumble on.
"The information is incorrect," Rubi Purnomo, head of
corporate communications for Newmont in Indonesia said in an
emailed response to Reuters. "PTNNT (PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara)
is producing normally at the moment but able to supply to PT
Smelting in Gresik only."
Earlier, the government's mineral enterprise director Dede
Suhendra told reporters that production at Newmont's Batu Hijau
mine had been cut by 70 percent as the dispute over a new export
tax dragged on for more than two months.
The new rules hike to 25 percent a tax for copper
concentrate exports, from 20 percent, and levy the tax on
Freeport and Newmont for the first time. The tax will rise to 60
percent by the end of 2016, before exports of concentrate are
banned from 2017.
"Newmont's production until today is only 30 percent,"
Suhendra told reporters earlier on Wednesday. He added that
Newmont had not resumed exports since January, and was now only
sending concentrates to Indonesia's sole copper smelter at
Gresik in East Java.
Before the new export rules, Freeport estimated that total
copper in concentrate output from its Indonesian mine would be
500,000 tonnes this year, while Newmont forecast output at
Freeport ships about 40 percent of its total copper
concentrates production to PT Smelting, which has a concentrate
capacity of about 660,000 tonnes, while Newmont supplies around
30 percent of its Indonesian output to the same smelter.
"As we meet with government officials in the coming days and
weeks to find a solution as soon as possible in regard to export
issues, PTNNT also has an operational contingency plan in
place," Newmont's Purnomo added.
Suhendra could not immediately be contacted on phone after
Newmont said last month that it expects normal mining
operations to continue at the mine in Indonesia for at least the
next two months.
Freeport has previously said that its Grasberg mine in Papua
is now producing at half of its capacity, but had not cut any
jobs so far.
Freeport in 2012 paid the government around $1 billion in
taxes and fees, while Newmont has paid more than $3 billion
(Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Singapore; Reporting
by Wilda Asmarini; Writing by Michael Taylor; Editing by Michael
Perry and Muralikumar Anantharaman)