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Indonesia looks to finalize revised mining laws within weeks

Indonesian Mining Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said the government is finalizing revisions to the country's mining laws, with more details on the changes expected to be released in the coming weeks, Reuters reported Oct. 4.

Earlier reports had already flagged the revision, saying the Indonesian government may be seeking a compromise solution to allow companies to continue exporting partially processed minerals in 2017, when the ban on all unrefined metals is set to take effect as contemplated in mining laws that were implemented in 2014.

Under current regulations, miners of copper, zinc, lead, manganese and iron would be prevented from exporting concentrates after January 2017, when only processed metals will be allowed to be shipped.

The mining rules have affected the operations of several companies, including mining majors Freeport-McMoRan Inc. and Newmont Mining Corp., and according to the mining minister, the revisions could give mining companies up to five more years to build smelters and lead to the resumption of nickel ore exports.

"We will provide an opportunity to companies building smelters, in the form of a relaxation ... in accordance with their smelter development progress," Pandjaitan said. He also noted that the rules on exports of nickel ore with a 1.8% metal content may be revised and exporting may be considered "because no one can process it domestically."

As part of the mining laws overhaul, the finance ministry is also working on a progressive export mineral export tax that will depend on mining companies' progress in developing local smelters and miners that fail to build smelters within five years could have their permits revoked.