JAKARTA – Indonesia's mining industry plans to ask the nation's Supreme Court on Tuesday to settle questions over the implementation of a mining law that threatens to halt all unprocessed mineral exports starting next month.
From January 12, mining companies must process their ore before shipping it overseas, a measure initially passed in 2009 to boost the value of exports from Indonesia, the world's top exporter of nickel ore, thermal coal and refined tin.
Uncertainty over the requirements of the law has drawn protests from small mining companies and international majors, including US giants Freeport-McMoRan Copper &Gold and Newmont Mining, which refine only about a third of their copper output domestically in Indonesia.
The Indonesian Mining Association will ask for the Supreme Court's opinion on the mining law to "get clarity so that we know and understand exactly the policy," said the group's executive director, Syahrir Abubakar.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration is working on a special regulation that will likely ease the export restrictions on companies already processing ore domestically.
That regulation could raise objections from lawmakers who earlier this month rejected the government's request to dilute the law.
Freeport's Indonesian unit, which runs the world's fifth-biggest copper mine in the world, has warned that the planned export ban would cut the firm's revenues in the country by 65%, costing Southeast Asia's biggest economy $1.6-billion in lost revenue next year.