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Economy

Company in focus: Antam faces a test as Indonesia shifts mining policy

End to minerals export ban benefits state nickel producer

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Molten metal flows at a ferronickel smelter owned by state miner Antam in the Pomalaa district of Indonesia's Southeast Sulawesi Province.   © Reuters

JAKARTA Indonesia's surprise decision on the evening of Jan. 12, after the markets closed, to ease its mineral export ban sent ripples through Asia's nickel industry. Shares of nickel producers in the region plummeted the day after the announcement on fears of a sudden supply surge.

Vale Indonesia, the country's largest nickel producer and the local unit of Brazilian mining giant Vale, saw its share price plunge more than 15%, while Philippine miner Nickel Asia tumbled more than 10% at one point. Australia's Western Areas fell nearly 20%, prompting one Australian media report to describe Jakarta's decision as a "Black Friday blow."

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