Indonesian official keeps mum on possibly moving forward iron ore export ban

A worker holds a handful of iron ore pellets at a mine. (Bloomberg pic)

JAKARTA: A top Indonesian mining ministry official said on Monday he did not want to speculate on whether the government might bring forward a planned ban on iron ore exports from 2022.

The ban is aimed at making miners process minerals in Indonesia, a major exporter of nickel ore.

There was talk in the metals market on Monday that the ban might be brought forward, sending nickel prices to a four-year high on the Shanghai Futures Exchange and to a two-week high at US$14,930 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange.

“I don’t want to speculate in that regard,” Bambang Gatot Ariyono, director-general of mineral and coal at the mining ministry, said when asked if there were plans to change the legislation to ban exports.

Under a 2017 mining regulation, Indonesia is due to stop allowing the export of unprocessed ore starting January 12, 2022, after giving miners a five-year period to build smelters onshore.

“As long as there is no new regulation, the current one remains in effect,” Ariyono said.

Last month Ariyono said that Indonesian authorities would enforce a ban on the export of raw ore exports by 2022 to make miners process minerals in the country.