Indonesia evaluating mining rules as 2017 deadline on metal exports nears – by Wilda Asmarini (Reuters U.S. – September 8, 2016)

JAKARTA – Indonesia’s mining ministry is scrambling to find a way around a deadline on mineral processing that could prevent some miners, including U.S. copper mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Inc, from exporting minerals from the country from 2017.

Under a government regulation introduced in 2014, miners of copper, zinc, lead, manganese and iron are restricted to exporting partially processed minerals until January 2017, after which only shipments of refined metals will be allowed.

The export curbs – which have cost Indonesia billions of dollars in lost revenue – were intended to shift sales from unprocessed raw materials to higher-value finished metals, but smelters have been slow to materialise as low commodity prices have made them economically unviable.

The government is now “comprehensively evaluating (the requirements) for each commodity,” coal and minerals director general Bambang Gatot said on Thursday, referring to meetings on the rule with acting mining minister Luhut Pandjaitan.

Uncertainty over Indonesia’s mining rules have been a flashpoint between miners and the government for years. The sector accounted for almost 6 percent of Indonesia’s GDP before the 2014 ban on metal ore exports, and has since slipped to about 4 percent.

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