Indonesia seeking "way out" of 2017 mining export rule

JAKARTA, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s chief economic minister said on Tuesday his team would seek a way out of mining rules that threaten to prevent some firms from exporting semi-processed minerals from January.

Under a rule introduced in 2014, miners of metals including copper are only allowed to ship partially processed minerals until January 2017, when exports of only refined metals will be allowed.

“We will look for a way out, but of course not by simply allowing exports if they haven’t made investments,” Chief Economic Minister Darmin Nasution told reporters.

“We want them to be committed and then we will provide a way,” he added.

Freeport McMoRan Inc has said it is confident the government will not push ahead with the 2017 rule, which would prevent the U.S.-based company from exporting copper concentrate from its giant Grasberg mine in Papua.

Freeport is Indonesia’s biggest copper miner, and its exports are an important source of revenue for Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe and Hidayat Setiaji; Writing by Fergus Jensen, editing by David Evans)