August 13, 2019 / 12:23 PM / 4 days ago

Indonesia's president to decide whether ore export ban to be brought forward

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo will make the final decision on whether the country brings forward an export ban on mineral ore, the minister in charge of mining said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Indonesia's Incumbent President Joko Widodo attends a plenary session during the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, June 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

The ban is currently due to come into force in 2022.

“The president’s decision is expected some time in the future,” Luhut Pandjaitan, coordinating minister for maritime affairs and responsible for the mining ministry, told reporters on Tuesday. “We are awaiting the president’s order.”

Pandjaitan favors bringing forward the ban from 2022 as it is aimed at attracting investment into the smelting industry.

“In the current trade war condition, we need to attract as many investors as possible,” he told reporters.

Earlier on Tuesday, Pandjaitan said the revision to the mineral export rule is currently being drafted.

Pandjaitan declined to specify whether the timetable will be changed for all exports of ore and concentrates or only for certain ores, such as nickel, which is mostly used as a material to make stainless steel.

Indonesia’s Nickel Miners Association said bringing forward the ban would disrupt revenue flow for miners which they depend on to finance smelter investments.

Panjaitan said the 13 operating nickel smelters should have enough capacity to process Indonesian ores.

Mining ministry data showed 22 more nickel smelters are currently being constructed and 19 other smelters to process minerals such as copper, bauxite and iron ore.

Reporting by Wilda Asmarini; Additional reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; editing by Susan Fenton and David Evans

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