SHANGHAI, Jan. 20 -- Indonesia's Bangka Belitung Timah Sejahtera (BBTS), a consortium of seven private tin smelters, has restarted operations after almost two months. "We restarted production last week but only on a small scale of perhaps 10-20% of capacity. We still don't have enough tin ore to process. We just use whatever amount we buy from the tin miners," director Johan Murod told Metal Bulletin. Ore supplies to the smelters have been limited by bad monsoon weather and increased police activity against illegal small-scale mining.
"Police arrested tens of miners this month. Their cases were processed and they were sent to jail for months," said Murod. Many tin miners are now turning to vegetable farming to feed themselves, he said. PT Timah, Indonesia's largest tin producer and the world's second largest, has said it was unaffected by the rains due to better equipment and unaffected by the crackdown as its workers mined in proper and licensed sites. PT Koba Tin has also said it has been affected by neither rains nor crackdown.