JAKARTA, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Indonesia, the world's third-largest coal exporter, plans to gradually cease its coal exports to save for its future needs, says a government official.
The National Energy Board, or DEN, is now putting together such a recommendation to be submitted to the government this month, state-owned news agency ANTARA reports.
"Up till now, DEN members are still discussing a strategy to keep coal to ourselves and the benefits to be derived by such a policy," said Rinaldi Dalimi, a member of the Energy Board.
Rinaldi said the current coal production of 250 million tons per year would reach its break-even point in the next 20 to 30 years.
The Association of Indonesian Coal Mining Companies said Wednesday it forecasts 2010 coal production to reach 275 million to 280 million metric tons.
Last year's coal production was 254 million metric tons, 20 percent less than in 2008.
The association attributes the decline in production to lengthy licensing procedures, particularly for mining in forested areas, that can take between six and 12 months to complete. It also blamed lack of coordination between the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and regional, provincial and district administrations.
According to a 2008 statistical energy survey, Indonesia had coal reserves of 4.3 billion tons.
State-owned PT Tambang Bukit Asam, one of the five largest coal producers in Indonesia, forecasts
this year's coal production at 14 million tons. PTBA has mineable reserves of approximately 7.3 billion tons or 17 percent of the total coal reserves in Indonesia.
The company is exploring the possibility of acquiring coal mining companies in Kalimantan while developing its existing operations. PTBA President Director Ir Sukrisno said the company is also interested in overseas acquisitions, particularly mining ventures in Australia and Africa.
Around 65 percent of Indonesia's population has access to electricity. But in rural areas, 74 million people are not connected to the network.
Recent power shortages have forced state electricity company PLN to impose rotating blackouts in Indonesia's major cities.
As for Indonesia's green energy, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry statistics show that renewable energy currently accounts for only 3.4 percent of total potential reserves.
"This is perhaps because there are no clear policies, incentives or pricing plans to encourage investment in renewable energy, or promotion of schemes to develop renewable energy concurrently to displace high-carbon coal with low-carbon gas as a 'bridging fuel,'" Fitrian Ardiansyah, program director of climate and energy at WWF-Indonesia, wrote in a recent editorial in the Jakarta Post.