MAC: Mines and Communities

Ranking Indonesia

Published by MAC on 2001-05-01

Ranking Indonesia

Indonesia's potential to produce significant amounts of hard coal has been recognised for some time. (In 1994, estimated total reserves were 36 billion tonnes). By and large, the resources are "young, steaming coals...very low ash and sulphur, high-volatile, bituminous..." [Mining Engineering, September 1990]. Although the country has hosted operating coal mines for more than a hundred years, the industry was allowed to run down after independence, and only "stoked up" in the 1970's, as the regime feared it might have to become a net importer of oil, to meet growing demand for electricity [Financial Times May 25 1991].

In the late eighties (1987-1989) domestic coal output increased 300% (from around 3 million tonnes to 9 million tonnes) while exports expanded comparably (from one million to 3 million tonnes) [Mining Engineering Sept 1990]. Soon afterwards, demand from overseas buyers also escalated dramatically (18 million tonnes was exported in 1993) [Indonesian Coal Prospects to 2010, IEA Coal Research, London 1995].

Latest figures show that, in 1997, Indonesia delivered nearly 55 million tonnes (53.6 million) of which around 36 million tonnes went overseas [Mining Annual Review (MAR) 1998, Mining Journal Ltd, London], with the most significant production deriving from PT KALTIM PRIMA (KPC) (15.6 million tonnes), PT BUKIT ASAM (9.7 million tonnes) and PT ARUTMIN (7.2 million tonnes)[MAR 1998]. (PT Arutmin is owned by BHP of Australia which, in early 1999 was also granted two new COWs (contracts of work) to explore and mine coal in Central and East Kalimantan. [Jakarta Post April 20 1999]).

This output currently ranks Indonesia 15th among world producers, following China (one and a third billion tonnes a year), India, Germany, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Greece (among others) [MAR 1998]. Strategically and economically, Indonesia has considerable advantages over some of its rivals: it is not only the closest source for many South East Asian markets, but considerably nearer to Europe than Australia (the world's third biggest coal producer and its biggest exporter). Domestic Indonesian output goes mainly towards power plants (into which a substantial proportion of new capital is being put) [Jakarta Post, April 1 1994] and - importantly - towards the cement industry.

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