Indonesia’s nickel miners agreed on Monday to stop nickel ore exports immediately, the country’s investment agency chief Bahlil Lahadalia said, after Jakarta last month brought forward a ban on shipments to January 2020 from 2022.

Ores that are supposed to be exported will be bought by local smelter operators at an international price level, Lahadalia said.

“This agreement was carried out not on the basis of a letter from the government or technical ministry, but a joint agreement,” Lahadalia said. “Where the agreement is carried out by the nickel association with us the government.”

The government wants to protect investment in its latest move while also support the growth of local businesses.”

Indonesia’s government in September expedited the ore export ban by two years as part of its efforts to boost expansion of local smelting industry.

Expectations of the Indonesian ban have pushed nickel prices on the London Metal Exchange (LME) up nearly 40% to around $17,000 a tonne now. In September, they hit a five-year high of $18,850 a tonne.

A spokesman at the mining ministry, who issues regulation on ore exports, could not immediately comment.

Alexander Barus, executive director at PT Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park, Indonesia’s largest nickel industrial park, said smelters in Morowali were ready to buy ore from miners.


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