Indonesia's small miners feel betrayed by export ban; fear more layoffs, closures

Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:37am EST
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By Fergus Jensen

DAMPALA, Indonesia Jan 12 (Reuters) - Hundreds of small Indonesian mines, like nickel miner Mobi Jaya Persada, are preparing for the worst after the government imposed a controversial mineral export ban on Sunday that could force them to close down.

Mobi Jaya Presada, which contributes to Indonesia being the world's biggest exporter of nickel ore that is used in stainless steel production, has already laid off half of its 100 employees ahead of the ban coming into force.

"We've already started reducing the workforce and we're going to continue if the regulation stops ore exports," said Roy Kojongan, business development manager for the remote Mobi Jaya Persada, adding the company only had 44 employees left.

"It's not fair for the people of Indonesia."

Almost 30,000 mine workers have been laid off as mines cut back operations ahead of the long-expected ban, according to the Indonesian Mineral Entrepreneurs Association.

Mine lay offs have already sparked protests in Jakarta and thousands more could see the export ban become a hot political issue in 2014's legislative and presidential elections.

"We call on all mining workers to prepare to go on the streets and swarm the presidential palace if the government goes ahead with the implementation of the ban," said Juan Forti Silalahi of the National Mine Workers Union in a statement earlier on Saturday.

On Sunday, the export ban took effect requiring all mineral ore be processed domestically in an attempt to transform Southeast Asia's biggest economy from being simply a supplier of raw materials into a producer of finished goods.   Continued...