The nickel market must stop dreaming about potential changes to Indonesia’s ban on nickel ore exports, an official from the country’s chamber of commerce has warned.

Vince Gowan, vice chairman of the chamber’s productivity improvement and ICT committee told delegates at Metal Bulletin’s 2nd Asian Nickel Conference in Jakarta that he could not see exemptions being granted for companies building nickel smelters either.

“The ban on raw materials is certain. Don’t dream that Indonesia will change [its policy],” Gowan said.

Nickel ore exports from Indonesia stopped in January when the country enforced a ban on raw materials exports.

The ban was announced years in advance, but the market played down the prospect of it being implemented, leaving many caught out when nickel prices soared on tighter supply and rising production costs in the months following the ban.

Even now, there is widespread debate about whether it will be reversed or watered down. 

A popular theory has suggested that companies investing in smelting capacity will be granted exemptions.

“I don’t see any reason why, while building a smelter, you are going to be able to export ore. It is very unlikely at this stage,” Gowan said.

Janie Davies
Twitter: @janiedavies_mb