UPDATE 1-Indonesia nickel ore export ban to remain -mining ministry director

(Updates with context)

JAKARTA, June 4 (Reuters) - Indonesia will keep in place a ban on the export of nickel ore even as it relaxes exports of some other minerals under revisions to its mining law, the director of minerals at the country’s energy and minerals ministry said on Thursday.

Indonesia’s parliament passed revisions to its mining law last month, allowing miners building smelters to export ore for the next three years. But the revisions stipulated that the government can rule against the export of specific ores under a separate regulation.

“This will not be applicable to nickel, nickel ore exports will continue to be banned,” director Yunus Saefulhak told Reuters by text message.

The new mining law will also allow miners to extend permits and seek expansion of mining areas beyond current legal limits, stoking concern and protests among environmentalists and transparency watchdogs.

Indonesia, once one of the world’s biggest exporters of nickel, banned exports this year while it seeks to develop a full nickel supply chain, starting from extraction, processing into metals and chemicals used in batteries, all the way to building electric vehicles.

The Indonesian nickel miners’ association (APNI) proposed in April that the country allow exports of nickel ore to cushion the impact on processed nickel exports by global measures to control the coronavirus outbreak, but this was rejected by the Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment. (Reporting by Wilda Asmarini; Writing by Fathin Ungku; editing by Ed Davies)