Govt offers conditional tax holiday to ailing coal miners
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Acknowledging difficulties encountered by coal miners due to a prolonged drop in prices, Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Rudi Rubiandini promised on Thursday that the government would provide fiscal incentives to ease the mining companies’ financial problems.
The minister said that the continued fall in coal prices would severely hurt the country’s coal mining companies.
“The government is ready to help by giving tax holidays or with other fiscal measures. The coal mining association has come to us to talk about the issue and asked for help. But we decided that the government would only intervene if the price hit US$60,” he said.
As of late last month, Indonesia’s coal reference price (HBA) fell to $84.65 per ton, declining 3.4 percent from $87.56 in July and 25 percent from its high of $112.87 in March.
Meanwhile, analysts have forecast that the Indonesian coal mining sector would remain under pressure due to the economic slowdown still affecting the four biggest coal importers countries — China, Japan, South Korea and India — and flooding coal supplies from non-traditional seaborne exporters.
Separately, the Indonesian Coal Mining Association’s (APBI) Bob Kamandanu told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that he hailed the government’s idea to provide fiscal incentives but doubted it would keep the promise.
“That is a good idea [to issue a tax holiday]. That means the government cares. But we don’t know whether the idea will be realized or not,” he said.
“Nevertheless, I don’t believe that the price would drop down that far. I guess the price will stay around $90 per ton by the end of this year,” he said.
The Newcastle thermal coal price, the benchmark for seaborne coal prices in Asia, set the average coal price around $90 to $95 a ton in 2012.
As reported earlier, some of the country’s major coal producers have prepared themselves for the fallout.
PT Adaro Energy, the nation’s second-largest thermal coal producer, has revised its annual production target for 2012 to between 48 million and 50 million metric tons, down from 50 million to 53 million tons.
PT Berau Coal Energy, a subsidiary of London-listed Bumi Plc., said it would also lower its production forecast to 20 million and 22 million tons, down from 23 million tons.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Wednesday that prices for benchmark Japanese imports of coal for its steel and metal-making furnaces may drop by around 25 percent as the fuel nears the cheapest it has been for three years.
Japanese steel mills and Australian producers are likely to settle for $160–$170 a ton FOB Australia for the fourth quarter, a sharp drop from the previous quarter but still a premium of $10–$20 above spot prices, producers and traders said.
The Japanese-Australian quarterly price is still the most important benchmark against which other types and origins of metallurgical coal is sold and a key indicator of the market’s strength, despite the growing acceptance of recently introduced daily index prices.