* Targets include 66 pct increase in Newmont copper sales
* Freeport targtting 2014 copper sales worth $5.7 bln
* Govt pushing to resume shipments quickly (Recasts, adds latest details on resumption of exports, Freeport statement)
By Wilda Asmarini
JAKARTA, March 28 (Reuters) - Indonesia has approved big increases in 2014 copper sales for local units of copper miners Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc and Newmont Mining Corp, as it pushes for the two firms to resume exports quickly.
While the two U.S.-based miners this week made progress toward a resumption of exports from Indonesia, any prolonged stoppage would hurt their share prices and support global prices of the base metal, which have lost almost 11 percent this year.
Freeport and Newmont together produce 97 percent of Indonesia’s copper, and as a shareholder in both firms the hiatus could also hurt its national income that also benefits from their tax and royalty payments.
The targets include more than 10 percent increase in Freeport’s copper concentrate sales from its Grasberg mine in Papua at 2,118,525 tonnes in 2014 compared to realised sales of 1,919,667 tonnes in 2013, a mining ministry official said on Friday.
Of this amount, Freeport’s copper concentrate export sales are also targetted to increase more than 10 percent to 1,218,525 tonnes in 2014 compared to realised export sales of 1,104,161 tonnes in 2013.
“This data is based on their planning and our approval,” Coal and Minerals Director General Sukhyar told reporters.
The government has also approved a target to increase copper concentrate sales from Newmont’s Batu Hijau mine in Sumbawa by 66 percent to 527,136 tonnes this year compared to realised 2013 sales of 316,851 tonnes.
Of this amount the target includes export sales of 403,036 tonnes compared to realised export sales of 236,932 tonnes in 2013.
Southeast Asia’s largest economy is pushing to increase added value to the minerals it produces and introduced tough new rules this year that force miners to refine metals domestically, including an escalating tax on exports.
Freeport and Newmont have halted copper concentrate shipments since January, refusing to pay the export tax that they say breaches their contracts.
Indonesia is keen for the two firms to resume exports because of the potential loss in their contributions to state revenue. Both companies gained certification as registered exporters this week, bringing them closer to this goal.
“This has to be quick,” Sukhyar told Reuters on Thursday, referring to the final steps the government needed to take for the two companies to begin exporting again after the January stoppage.
“Their concentrate needs to be shipped out. It’s a pity if it’s not,” he said adding that exports could restart in April.
Freeport’s total contributions to Indonesia in the form of taxes, royalties and dividends since 1992 had reached $15.2 billion last year, with approximately $500 million in 2013 alone, the company noted in an emailed statement received on Friday.
Freeport also said that while no dividends were paid in 2013 because of low commodity prices, a resumption of exports would mean an increase in these contributions as well as taxes and royalties.
Newmont share prices have slumped nearly 30 percent since September, partly because of uncertainty in Indonesia.
Copper prices and are recovering from a 3-1/2 year low of $6,321 a tonne hit earlier this month. (Additional reporting by Fergus Jensen; Editing by William Hardy)