JAKARTA, June 19 About a dozen newly constructed
nickel smelters in Indonesia have stopped operations due to a
plunge in nickel prices while others are operating at a loss, an
industry association executive said on Monday.
Thirteen smelters with a combined capacity of 750,000 tonnes
of nickel pig iron a year "were forced to cease operation"
because nickel prices reached as low as around $8,000 a tonne,
Jonatan Handojo, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Smelter
Association told Reuters, declining to name the owners of the
Three-month nickel touched a one-year low of $8,680 per
tonne on the London Metal Exchange last week and is down more
than 10 percent so far this year. The metal was trading at
$8,975 per tonne on Monday at 0800 GMT.
There are 12 other nickel smelters in Indonesia which have
been able to carry on producing, but they have suffered from
losses, Handojo added.
Indonesia enacted a policy in 2014 restricting nickel ore
exports that fostered the construction of new smelters. That
year, nickel prices hit a record $21,625 a tonne. The country
reversed those rules earlier this year, allowing the export of
nickel ore and bauxite under certain conditions.
Indonesian state-controlled miner Aneka Tambang
resumed nickel ore exports last month.
Refined nickel prices have been pressured by expectations of
more nickel ore supply from the Philippines and Indonesia.
Nickel ore output in the Philippines, the world's top
supplier, fell 51 percent in the first quarter due to rains and
the suspension of mine operations by former environment minister
But Lopez was ousted in May by a panel of lawmakers and
President Rodrige Duterte's choice for her replacement was one
welcomed by miners. The country's finance minister Carlos
Dominguez has promised investors there would be no more
arbitrary suspensions of mining operations.
(Reporting by Wilda Asmarini; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo;
Editing by Christian Schmollinger)