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Copper producer Indonesia will stop exporting copper concentrates in 2024 when two major domestic copper companies finish building their smelters and start processing the raw material locally, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday.
Freeport Indonesia and Amman Mineral are expected to start copper processing at their respective new smelters in May 2024, the president said in a speech carried by Bloomberg.
“If these two big companies complete their smelters, that means we will no longer export raw copper because it will be processed domestically to become copper cathodes,” Widodo said.
Indonesia last week issued both companies recommendations to continue exporting copper concentrate until their smelters begin operations.
Last month, Indonesia’s Mining Minister Arifin Tasrif said that the country would allow exports of copper, iron ore, lead, zinc, and anode mud from copper concentrates to continue, despite a wider export ban starting this month.
Copper prices have fallen in recent days as uncertainty over China’s economic stimulus and future copper demand has clouded the outlook.
But in the medium to long term, copper demand is set to soar, Robert Friedland, billionaire mining investor and founder of Canadian mining company Ivanhoe Mines, said last month.
Copper, alongside nickel, is one of the raw materials crucial for the energy transition, and Indonesia mines both of them in massive quantities.
Indonesia, the world's biggest nickel miner, has been looking to develop nickel processing industries and ultimately produce batteries for EV manufacturers and is eager to attract foreign companies for those ventures.
At the end of last year, Indonesia said it was considering the idea of forming a cartel to manage the supply of nickel and some other key battery metals, similar to what OPEC does for oil.
“I do see the merit of creating Opec to manage the governance of oil trade to ensure predictability for potential investors and consumers,” Indonesia's Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia told the Financial Times in an interview at the end of October.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.