Indonesian miner Antam to resume nickel ore exports this month

JAKARTA, May 2 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s state-controlled miner PT Aneka Tambang (Antam) will resume exports of nickel ore this month, with an initial shipment of 150,000 tonnes expected to leave for China in early May, a company executive said on Tuesday.

The nickel shipment in May will be Antam’s first after a three-year halt due to a government ban on raw mineral exports imposed in early 2014.

Antam, which has 5 million tonnes of low-grade wet nickel ore available for immediate shipping, also requested on Tuesday permission from the mining ministry to export an additional 3.7 million tonnes of nickel ore over the next year.

The company has already received official approval to export 2.7 million tonnes of nickel ore over the 12 months from end-March, all of which will be bound for China, one of the world’s biggest consumers of the metal.

“The first shipment of three vessels is being loaded right now,” Antam director Hari Widjajanto told reporters.

“We hope it will leave in early May,” he said.

Antam is planning to ramp up production from last year’s 1.63 million tonnes to 9 million tonnes in 2017, Widjajanto said.

Since the government announced plans to roll back its ban on mineral exports on Jan. 12, nickel prices on the London Metal Exchange are down roughly 10 percent or just over $1,000 a tonne.

The ban on raw mineral exports was imposed in 2014 to encourage investment in value-added smelting projects but the restriction hurt miners like Antam and government revenues.

The government missed its 2016 revenue target by $17.6 billion, according to unaudited budget data from the finance ministry. (Reporting by Wilda Asmarini; Editing by Tom Hogue)