On the 20 June 2019 the Indonesian Economic Geological Society (MGEI) held a special discussion about “The Indonesian REE Update; Where we are at and where to”. This half day event was held in Jakarta, with about 90 people attended, of which about 14 were women. The seminar was conducted in Bahasa Indonesia. Budi Santoso of MGEI welcomed visitors and introduced the moderator. Note; – Rare Earth Elements (REE) = Logam Tanah Jarang (LTJ).
My overview from the seminar suggests; –
· Indonesia has some great technical talent in the REE industry.
· Indonesia should not focus so much on monazite from Banka- Billiton, but look to different geological deposits, (including REE associated with lateritic Ni, and other deposit types) to more quickly develop a REE industry in Indonesia.
· There is too much complex government planning, lack of coordinated regulations that are hindering the development of an REE industry in Indonesia. One option may be to remove monazite from the radioactive list of minerals. Discussion suggested to simplify the administration of the REE industry into one simplified consortium.
· The economic model for developing various REE mining commodities in Indonesia is quite risky, and options to develop a domestic off take industry based on REE metals is not adequately defined.
· There appears to be no industry friendly system to allow new IUP’s to be taken up. There is a need to define the potential exploration / mining business licence areas (WIUP) for REE.
The following are brief notes, and I apologize for any errors, omissions and recommend readers to contact the MGEI for copies of the great presentations that included much detail and insights.
I Gde Sukadana from the Indonesian atomic research centre (BATAN) acted as moderator and provided a brief introduction to the topic of REE. There are 5 main issues facing the REE industry in Indonesia.
1. There is not enough detailed information on Indonesia’s REE potential resources, as most data focusses on the major commodities. There are few relevant publications and poor coordination on research.
2. There are no recognized insitu resources defined (some in hypothetical category, some monazite in stockpiles).
3. PT. Timah has developed bench top pilot plant studies of using monazite (2015 & 2017) but has not gone to a commercial scale production.
4. There has been very limited research into Indonesian commercial uses of REE products. There are inadequate marketing studies that look at selling REE on the open market.
5. There are ongoing legal / regulatory issues that impede REE development, including no suitable structure to issue new IUP’s for REE.
Ade Kadarusman, Ph.D (PT. AKA Geosains Consulting) – “Technical Overview of the Indonesian REE; Exploration to Inventory”.
Outlined geochemical & geological setting for REE. Then outlined the international price history of REE. The recent downturn in prices has led to some companies now being in great difficulties. Defined the different geological types of deposits around the world, with China dominating the industry. Outline the major deposits related to tectonics, and thereby related to Indonesia’s geological potential. Alluvial deposits of Monazite, Exnotime & Ilmenite in the Banka Billiton area. REE deposits are being researched are a) primary monazite-based deposits, b) secondary laterite REE (or clay type), c) primary oxide deposits (Bastnaesite ores) and d) per alkaline igneous rocks. Ade further noted that geochemical analysis in Indonesia for REE is a major concern, with many Indonesian laboratory instruments not working properly due to limited skilled operators and maintenance support.
Dr. Noor Cahyo (PPGL- ESDM) and BATAN – “REE Roadmap Policy; Upstream to Downstream”.
A brief outline of the regulations and discussion between several government ministries & various agencies identifies the issues are related to; – a) regulations, b) exploration, c) processing, d) supervision of the industry. A complex group of agencies has been developing various versions of a roadmap for some 7 years to develop a REE industry in Indonesia. The upsurge in public interest from the environmental lobby and global politics is also a growing roadblock for development of the REE industry. During the past 7 years, other countries have come from behind Indonesia and are now more advanced with their REE industries.
Moehamad. Awaludin (Geological Agency) “What’s being done and to be done”.
This talk was presented in 4 parts; a) Industry definitions and uses of REE, b) six minister / institution agreements & the minister of industries decisions on the development of LTJ-based industries, c) The geological Agencies investigation of REE and the direction of resource development in Indonesia, and e) The direction of developing LTJ resource investigations and their management in Indonesia. This talk covered a wide range of issues, including illegal miners, options for zircon, defining resource areas for inclusion into spatial plans for exploration & mining, regulation traps etc. The presentation also displayed a large number of known REE occurrences throughout much of Indonesia, along with identified regions of various REE potential.
The closing points being; –
1. The priority of exploration should be directed at determining the availability of LTJ resources from the type of ore that is suitable to be processed domestically, and can be synchronized with the possible viable industrial scale plant.
2. Road maps covering upstream – downstream need to be planned / evaluated immediately to realize the LTJ industry development program in Indonesia.
3. Laterite and other weathering generated deposits (alluvial) are quite abundant, so that the study of these types of deposits needs to be prioritized.
4. It is expected that the results of the working group on inventory and exploration of rare earth metal reserves and resources can be used as basic data to support the development of rare earth mining and offtake industries.
The ESDM exploration team has produced a report; Laporan Tem Kelompok Kerja Inventarisasi Dan Eksploorasi Sumber Daya Dan Cadangan Logam Tanah Jarang. A booklet has also been developed “Potensi Logam Tanah Jarang Di Indonesia”.
Hadi Sundoro ST. MBA (PT. Timah) spoke on “The Indonesian REE update”. This started with a concise review of global REE deposits, supply and demand of REE oxides, and then moved onto the major Indonesian hypothetical resources of Monazite. The potential international competitiveness of developing PT. Timah’s monazite resources is modest, but enhanced by assuming no mining costs (by product of tin production).
Principal Geologist. Independent Consultant