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Indonesia Reviews Nickel Smelter Permits Amid Resource Concerns

11 Jun 2024 2:29 pm
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MUMBAI, 11 Jun (Commoditiescontrol): The Indonesian government is undertaking a thorough evaluation of the permits for RKEF smelters producing ferronickel and nickel pig iron, a mining ministry official announced on Tuesday. As the world's leading nickel producer, Indonesia faces a rapid depletion of ore due to a surge in downstream investments. This has prompted the government to explore strategies to preserve ore stocks for high-value products, particularly nickel chemicals used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

Irwandy Arif, a senior official with the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, highlighted the government’s focus on developing High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) smelters, which extract nickel and cobalt from laterite ore to produce Mixed Hydroxide Precipitate (MHP), a crucial material for the battery industry, and smelters that produce nickel matte.

It remains uncertain if the potential termination will affect existing permits. Ore reserves graded above 1.5% are predicted to last until 2029, assuming no further exploration, Arif told attendees at an industry conference organized by the Shanghai Metal Market.

Indonesia, once a significant exporter of nickel ore, banned the shipment of unprocessed nickel in 2020 to encourage onshore investment. The Indonesia Nickel Miners Association (APNI) has called on the government to impose a moratorium on new pyrometallurgy plants to extend the lifespan of high-grade reserves.

Indonesia’s high-grade 1.7% nickel ore is primarily used to produce nickel pig iron, a key feedstock for stainless steel, while lower-grade nickel is used in EV batteries. This strategic review aims to ensure the sustainable use of Indonesia's nickel resources, prioritizing higher value-added production to support the growing demand in the EV sector.

(By Commoditiescontrol Bureau; +91 98201 3018)

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