Major Indonesian tin smelter stops refining operations--shareholder

Reuters 22 Feb 16;

Feb 22 Major Indonesian tin smelter PT Refined Bangka Tin (RBT) has stopped refining operations and its plant will be scrapped due to environmental concerns, a company shareholder told Reuters.

The exit of privately-owned RBT from the market could provide some support to global tin prices as falling shipments from Indonesia, the world's largest exporter of the soldering material, take a further hit.

Benchmark tin on the London Metal Exchange rose 0.9 percent to $15,910 a tonne, up from $15,880 before the news.

"All Indonesian shareholders and Singaporean partners have agreed to cease operation," Artha Graha Group founder Tomy Winata told Reuters.

"The area will be made a conservation area. The refinery won't be sold, but will be scrapped."

Winata said the decision was made after the company failed to meet "environmentally friendly" expectations.

RBT officials were not immediately available for comment.

The company slashed output last year due to rock bottom prices, producing as little as 200 tonnes a month compared with an average of around 1,000 tonnes previously.

Established in 2007, RBT had shipped refined tin to major markets such as the United States, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Pakistan, according to the company's website.

This is the latest hit to Indonesian tin exports, which have been declining for several years due to tightening government regulations on miners and smelters operating on the islands of Bangka and Belitung.

In January, the country's shipments were just 2,486 tonnes, a 63 percent year-on-year drop.

The Southeast Asian country is concerned about the scale of illegal tin mining and smuggling, while green groups and electronics firms have expressed worries about environmental damage. (Reporting by Randy Fabi in Jakarta and Melanie Burton in Melbourne, Editing by David Evans and Mark Potter)

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