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Indonesia Boosts A Couple of Base Metals

For those of you following the Indonesian mineral export saga lately, it looks like we have a final resolution. Sort of.

Reports over the weekend are that Indonesia's politicians have reached a compromise on the proposed ban.

The new export law took effect on Saturday at midnight. Effectively outlawing the shipment of unprocessed mineral products outside of Indonesia. Copper miners like Freeport-McMoRan had reportedly shut down production ahead of this deadline.

But the copper sector got an eleventh-hour reprieve. When lawmakers put through amendments to the export law.

The patch will allow producers of copper, iron, zinc, lead and magnesium to continue exporting unprocessed or semi-processed ore until 2017. Giving these mining companies time to build facilities for final upgrading in order to comply with the new laws.

Such miners will be subject to a higher tax on exports of unprocessed mineral concentrates.

But the news wasn't so rosy for a couple of metals. Namely nickel and alumina.

Indonesia is sticking to its guns on export bans for these commodities. Unprocessed shipments of ore will be banned immediately.

That's a significant development for global markets. Indonesia produced over 15% of the world's nickel in 2012. And 11% of the world's bauxite and alumina.

That supply is now largely in jeopardy. There is some upgrading capacity for nickel in the country, which may allow select producers to keep exporting under the news laws. But it appears the majority of output will be scuttled for the foreseeable future.

Nickel prices are up over 1.5% on the news. Absent some sort of last-minute change to the rules, expect that trend to continue.

Here's to a metal on the rise,

By. Dave Forest




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