Indonesia eases requirements for mining export permits, nickel excluded

JAKARTA, March 23 (Reuters) - Indonesia will now grant miners export permit for unrefined mineral ores, even if construction of their refining facilities is delayed, a move aimed at lessening the blow to the industry from the coronavirus, according to a document seen by Reuters.

Indonesia announced last year it would ban exports of unprocessed ore by 2023 to spur higher value smelting industries in the country, and that only miners with refining facilities that were meeting their construction schedules would be eligible for export permits.

The new regulation exempts nickel ore exports, which were banned last year to encourage foreign firms to help Indonesia’s bid to build a full supply nickel supply chain, from extraction to production of electric vehicles.

Indonesia considers projects to be on schedule if they have reached 90% of the construction target specified for a particular time.

Now, mining companies building smelters short of targets will be eligible for permits, according to the document, which was signed by an energy ministry official on March 12.

“Holders of Metal Mineral Production Operation Mining Business Permits (IUP) and Metal Mineral Production Operations Special Mining Business Permits (IUPK) with refining facilities that do not meet the construction requirement of at least 90%... can be given a recommendation for export approval,” the ministry said in the document.

The ministry added, however, that there would be a 20% of export value “administrative fine” for miners receiving export permits having not met their construction schedules.

“This export incentive does not eliminate the company’s obligation to continue building smelters in the country,” the ministry said. (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Martin Petty)