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Indonesia bans mineral ore exports but major miners like Freeport exempted

Published on Jan 12, 2014 1:20 PM

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia, one of the world's biggest resource exporters, halted all mineral ore exports on Sunday in a bid to promote domestic processing, but the country's president passed a last-minute regulation to ease the ban's impact on major miners.

In one of his biggest economic policy decisions since taking office nearly 10 years ago, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono approved the ban, but allowed US mining giants Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold and Newmont Mining Corp to continue to ship billions of dollars worth of copper overseas.

The Southeast Asian nation is the world's biggest exporter of nickel ore, refined tin and thermal coal and home to the fifth largest copper mine and top gold mine.

The long-expected ban aims to boost Indonesia's long-term return from its mineral wealth by forcing miners to process their ores domestically. But officials fear a short-term cut in foreign revenue could widen the current account deficit, which has undermined investor confidence and battered the rupiah.

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