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Indonesia Revokes Temporary Suspension of Nickel Ore Exports

Indonesia lifted a suspension on exports of nickel ore announced last week following a surge in shipments ahead of a ban on overseas sales starting next year.

Companies meeting all the rules related to smelter investment and exports can resume shipments immediately, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan told reporters in Jakarta on Thursday. Some traders may have already started exporting the mineral again, he said.

Indonesia halted nickel ore shipments to verify if exporters were in compliance with various rules. Monthly shipments of nickel ore surged to 100-130 cargoes since the announcement of a ban on shipments two years earlier than previously set and officials suspected traders were shipping out ore with nickel content of more than 1.7% in violation of rules.

Global nickel prices surged in September to the highest since 2014 after President Joko Widodo’s government said the ban would kick in from the start of 2020, setting off a scramble for supplies and rush among Indonesian miners to beat the deadline.

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The audit of about 30 companies with permits to export nickel ore will be completed in about seven to 10 days, Pandjaitan said. The nation’s Investment Coordinating Board, which is scheduled to hold a meeting with miners on Monday, will outline the technical details of audit, the minister said.

Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission, known as KPK, will continue to monitor the progress of investment made by miners with export license in building smelters, Pandjaitan said.

New copper smelters may be built in Morowali in Sulawesi and Weda Bay in North Maluku to process copper concentrates produced by PT Freeport Indonesia, which operates the Grasberg copper and gold mine, and PT Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara, Pandjaitan said. Production of downstream copper products will help Indonesia increase the value by 10 to 15 times and the country aims to build integrated mineral smelters, he said.
Source: Bloomberg

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