By Yayat Supriatna
JAKARTA, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Vale Indonesia and PT Aneka Tambang (Antam) were among the first group of companies to receive government approval to export processed mineral ore and refined metal under a new mining law, a senior government official said.
Bachrul Chairi, director general of foreign trade, said a total of nine companies were given export permits as of Thursday, allowing one of the world's largest mining industries to resume shipping some minerals and metals.
Around $500 million worth of monthly metal ore and concentrate exports have ground to a halt in Indonesia due to confusion surrounding the implementation of the Jan. 12 mining law, which includes a mineral ore export ban and a progressive tax on concentrate shipments.
Before the ban, Indonesia was the world's top exporter of nickel ore. It is also a major producer of refined tin, thermal coal, iron ore and bauxite.
The government granted the export permit to Vale Indonesia because the company processes all of its nickel ore at its four smelters in South Sulawesi, which have a capacity of more than 70,000 tonnes.
Indonesia's second biggest nickel producer, Antam, was also given approval to export from its three ferronickel smelters. But the company's smelting capacity only covers a small fraction of Antam's overall nickel ore production, which had been exported before last month's ban.
Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's Rating Services said last month they were reviewing Antam for a possible credit-rating downgrade because of the ban's impact on the company's export business.
PT Smelting, Indonesia's only copper smelter, and PT Indoferro, the country's first nickel pig iron smelter, were also granted export permits, Chairi said.
The other mining companies were PT Anugerah Nusantara Sejahtera, PT Global Multi Tambang, PT J. Resources Bolaang Mongondow, PT Long Xin Group Resources and PT Nusa Halmahera Mineral.
U.S. mining giants Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc and Newmont Mining Corp were not on the list.
Freeport and Newmont have both been in high-level talks with the government regarding the new export rules, which include a punitive escalating export tax.