Indonesian Tin Producers Eye Export Stoppage to Support Prices


FEBRUARY 12, 2015

Jakarta. Provincial government and smelter officials in Indonesia's main tin producing region are set to meet within the next two weeks to discuss a possible export moratorium in a bid to support global prices, officials in the top exporter said on Thursday.

As benchmark London Metal Exchange (LME) tin prices trade at two-and-a-half-year lows, the governor of Bangka-Belitung, Rustam Effendi, is spearheading talks on whether to halt exports, Agung Nugroho, corporate secretary at the country's biggest tin miner Timah told Reuters by text.

The Indonesian Association of Tin Exporters said that the discussions were ongoing. Some members had agreed to the export plan, but many were still undecided, association president Jabin Sufianto said by text.

Timah would not back such a plan, Nugroho said, and both he and another senior industry official contacted by Reuters were sceptical that if implemented, it would have the desired effect.

"It might happen but it will not be successful," Nugroho said. "It's a global situation, all (commodity prices) went down. It's global conditions."

Tin prices have been caught in a rout that has seen oil and copper tumble to more than five-year lows, partly due to worries over ample supply and wobbly Chinese economic growth.

The Bangka-Belitung provincial office could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Earlier this week a trade ministry official told reporters that the ministry had not received plans or details on a tin export stoppage in Bangka-Belitung.

Over the years, Indonesia has made many attempts to crimp supplies and support prices, with little success.

Late last year, a self-imposed export slowdown backed by tin association members, new laws to close any export loopholes through a domestic trading regulation and a police crackdown on illegal shipments all failed to bolster London tin prices.

The Indonesian government is also mulling whether to impose an export quota for tin. Indonesia exported 82,696 tonnes of refined tin in 2014 according to trade ministry data. The association estimates exports will fall below 70,000 tonnes in 2015.

The creation of a tin processing industry in Myanmar is also easing the stranglehold that Indonesia has held on the world market for refined tin.

Additional reporting by Dennys Kapa in Jakarta and Melanie Burton in Melbourne.


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