Indonesia expects mining rule overhaul within weeks – by Fergus Jensen and Wilda Asmarini (Reuters U.S.- October 4, 2016)

JAKARTA – Indonesia is finalizing an overhaul of its mining rules that could give companies up to five more years to build smelters, and reopen exports of nickel ore banned since 2014, the country’s mining minister said on Tuesday.

The proposed changes provide a way around a 2017 deadline for full domestic processing of mineral ores, potentially pushing completion of that aim to 2022, but also possibly undermining investor confidence.

“We will provide an opportunity to companies building smelters, in the form of a relaxation … in accordance with their smelter development progress,” Mining Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said.

Miners that fail to build smelters within five years could have their mining permits revoked, Pandjaitan said. Present rules would stop miners of copper, zinc, lead, manganese and iron from exporting concentrates after January 2017, after which only shipments of processed metals will be allowed.

The proposed change could be a breakthrough for miners such as U.S. giant Freeport-McMoRan Inc, for whom it would avert a stoppage of copper concentrate shipments from the giant Grasberg mine in Papua in far eastern Indonesia.

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