PT Aneka Tambang, one of Indonesia’s biggest nickel producers, is seeking government approval to export 6 million metric tons of low-grade ore, two months after the nation relaxed its ban on shipments.
The Jakarta-based company filed an application with the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry this week to export the ore over a year, Senior Vice President Trenggono Sutioso said by phone Thursday. The Trade Ministry issues export permits based on the recommendation of the energy ministry.
Indonesia was the world’s top supplier of mined nickel, used in stainless steel, before it halted shipments in 2014 to help develop its smelting industry and retain its mineral wealth. The country eased the ban in January, allowing smelters to export surplus ore containing less than 1.7 percent nickel, although shipments have yet to restart. In 2013, Antam sold a record 9.7 million tons of ore, about a third of which was low grade, according to its website.
“We have received interest from some of our buyers in China, Japan and Eastern Europe, but we haven’t committed to anything yet,” Sutioso said. “We will talk about shipment contracts after getting the export permit.”
The energy ministry’s rules for would-be exporters compel them to link shipments to measures that will support the nation’s smelting industry, and overseas sales are subject to a 10 percent tax. Indonesia’s relaxation of its ban has coincided with the threat of mine shutdowns in the Philippines, now the world’s biggest nickel supplier, and the Southeast Asian nations’ policy changes have pushed the price of the metal in opposite directions.
Ore exports of 6 million tons would contain a maximum of about 100,000 tons of metal, which is the equivalent of roughly 5 percent of world mined output last year totaling 2 million tons, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
Antam shares rose as much as 4.3 percent in Jakarta on Thursday, while nickel in London was 1.2 percent higher at $10,330 a ton. The metal has risen 20 percent in the past year, helped by a steadying of the economy in China, the biggest consumer, and supply fears due to the crackdown in the Philippines.
Bambang Gatot Ariyono, director-general of coal and minerals at the energy ministry, didn’t answer calls and text messages to his mobile phone.