Indonesia's chief economic minister Darmin Nasution - Photo: TheInsiderStories.

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The government is targeting the processing of ore slag from the processing of a mineral refining plant or smelter to be completed by the end of September, officials said today (08/30), to process around 17 thousand tons of slag produced by various mining companies.

“In terms of regulation, in general, it is almost one hundred percent. In two weeks we will have a meeting and it will be completed at the end of September,” said Coordinating Minister for Economy Darmin Nasution in Jakarta after a coordination meeting regarding the smelter slag with the relevant ministries.

Nasution said the government wanted to encourage the use of slag from processing smelters. However, these efforts are still constrained by regulations that categorize slag as hazardous and toxic waste (B3). In fact, he adds, from the processing and refining of nickel only, there are currently around 17 million tons of slag.

The amount was generated from domestic smelters, including a state-owned miner PT Aneka Tambang Tbk (IDX: ANTM), PT Megah Surya Pertiwi (MSP), IMIP Group, Vitue Dragon, and PT Vale Indonesia Tbk (IDX: INCO). But only 10 percent have been used for construction applications, Nasution said.

The minister said this was because slag as a by-product resulting from metal smelting was categorized as B3 waste. So, to be able to use it requires a number of permits, namely management, placement, hoarding, and utilization.

In addition, the implementation also requires a series of B3 characteristic tests in laboratories whose availability is still limited. That refers to Government Regulation Number 101 of 2014 concerning Hazardous Waste Management.

Based on this, he went on, his party continually held a coordination meeting with the relevant ministries to evaluate regulations that were considered to be inhibiting and the results were targeted to be completed next month. After that, he added, the ministry of environment will conduct an evaluation of the slag categorization in B3 waste, or it will be confirmed through special regulations.

“We hope that slag does not become B3 waste, just like other countries. Then it can be used quickly so that it does not accumulate,” Nasution said, while giving an example in developed countries such as the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, and Europe, slag has been processed and utilized as material such as for construction, the cement industry, and dikes.

“In 1920 the United States had categorized slag from steelmaking as B3 waste. However, with a series of standardized tests, slag was declared not B3 waste”, he said.

In addition, according to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, there are 20 types of industrial processing and refining mineral waste that is not categorized as B3 waste. Among others, slag from the processing of copper, zinc, and iron blast furnace, he adds.

He considered the use of slag is very important, considering the volume of minerals processed will continue to increase along with the increasing number of smelters that will operate. Right now, slag is only stacked. Later, after a change of regulation, each company can process, he concluded.

Currently, there are 20 existing smelters with the Special Production Operations Mining Business Permit from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. 13 of them are nickel smelters, two copper commodity smelters, two bauxite smelters, two iron smelters, and one manganese smelter.

If combined with the smelter labeled Industrial Business License from the Ministry of Industry, the current number is 27 smelters. This year, there will be an additional three smelter of Mining Business Permits. By 2022, there are targeted to be 60 smelters from the Mining Business License that are already operating.

According to the Director of Mineral Development and Business Yunus Saefulhak the smelter located in Kotawaringin Barat, Central Kalimantan is the first slag smelter factory in Indonesia which is targeted to operate this year.

The slag smelter built by PT Kapuas Prima Citra has a capacity of 36 thousand lead concentrates and can produce 22 thousand tons of lead bullion per year.

“This refining facility is one of the pioneers of the refining industry. The presence of the mine waste smelter is expected to encourage the development of a lead and zinc-based mineral industry,” he told reporters at the same place.

Beside slag smelter, he adds, there are two smelters that will operate this year, namely the nickel smelter owned by PT Wanatira Persada and PT Aneka Tambang. Wanatiara Persada’s nickel smelter is located in South Halmahera, North Maluku. The smelter will purify 2.2 million tons of nickel ore and can produce 200 thousand tons of Ferronickel with Ni content> 15 percent.

While Antam’s nickel smelter is located in East Halmahera, North Maluku. The smelter will refine nickel ore into ferronickel with an input capacity of 1,219,945 tons of nickel ore, and produce 64,655 tons of ferronickel with Ni content> 15 percent.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com