News / Asia

    Indonesia Pushes Mining Industry to Boost Local Hiring

    A worker stands beside an excavator digging for ore at Mobi Jaya Persada's nickel mining area at Dampala village in Marowali, central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Jan. 12, 2014.
    A worker stands beside an excavator digging for ore at Mobi Jaya Persada's nickel mining area at Dampala village in Marowali, central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Jan. 12, 2014.
    Jim Randle
    Mineral-rich Indonesia is trying to create more jobs in its huge mining sector. Jakarta wants more of the work of turning raw ore into finished metal to be done inside the country, so it is limiting exports of unprocessed ore. The idea is to encourage local construction of smelters and create jobs for Indonesians.

    Indonesia is one of the world's largest producers of the ores that yield gold, nickel, copper and tin.  

    Ships loaded with raw materials go to other nations for the complex process of refining or smelting.

    The process uses heat and chemicals to free the metal from the surrounding rock, and get rid of impurities like oxygen or sulfur. Indonesia wants more of that work, and the jobs that go with it, to be kept at home.  

    With that in mind, Jakarta first said it would ban exports of unprocessed ore, to encourage companies to build smelters in Indonesia and hire local people to run them. That policy has been modified to allow exceptions and more time.

    Maria Toyoda, a professor at Villanova University in Philadelphia who researches Asian economies, said it is very difficult to predict what an export ban would do. “It is a real gamble for Indonesia”

    She said the policy might work, but it also could have the opposite effect and hurt Indonesia by discouraging foreign investment.

    Trade expert Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute for International Economics said export bans or restrictions are used for many purposes by many nations, including the United States and India. He called it a “bad policy” that hurts trade, and a “sledgehammer” [excessively strong] tactic.

    “If there were a good economic case for building these refineries [smelters] in Indonesia, it would have been done already,” he said.

    Hufbauer said Indonesia would be more likely to create jobs by improving roads, ports and the electric grid, while cutting taxes and corruption.  

    He once lived in Indonesia and said he thinks there would be more jobs if it was easier to fire people who don’t perform, or to lay off workers when demand falls.  

    “Hiring somebody [under Indonesia’s rules] is almost like marrying that person,” said Hufbauer.

    The managing director of Ellice Consulting in London, James Berkeley, said Indonesia’s policy changes could raise metal prices in the short term, and make metal markets more volatile in the long run.

    “Prices will travel in a significantly higher and also lower range than they have in the past year,” he said.

    Berkeley said the odds are no greater than “50-50” that the policy will bring new jobs.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora