With its nickel reserves, Indonesia is betting on the electric car industry

Indonesia, the world’s number one country with nickel reserves, is determined to capitalize on the declared take-off of the electric vehicle and its associated industries – notably the battery industry. American manufacturer Tesla has signed supply contracts for nickel-containing products with two companies based in the country, including one worth $5 billion (4.86 billion euros) for five years, announced Monday, August 8 in Jakarta, the Indonesian minister responsible for investments. , Luhut Pandjaitan, on the sidelines of a forum to promote the country as a destination for foreign investment. The minister said negotiations are continuing.

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Mr. Panjetan traveled to the United States in April with a delegation of industrialists to meet with Elon Musk, the president of Tesla and SpaceX. The following month, the same Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, was invited to Boca Chica, Texas, at the future SpaceX launch site, for discussions with the American billionaire about his future projects in the country. Southeast Asia’s leading economic power, with a population of 273 million, aims to reduce carbon emissions by 41% by 2030 and intends to present itself, during the G20 Summit it is hosting in November, as the country of the future for green industries.

The two foundries that will supply Tesla produce hydroxides from processing nickel-bearing ores used to make batteries. It is located in the Morowali Industrial District, in the central part of Celebes Island, where the country’s largest integrated nickel production site is located. This is where one of the first domestic hydroxide production units, the joint venture of Chinese groups Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt and Tsingshan Holding Group, has been operating since the beginning of the year.

Doors wide open

The Indonesian government has also asked Elon Musk to invest in a 500,000-vehicle electric car plant, either in Batang, on the island of Java, or on Borneo, in the future North Kalimantan Green Industrial Zone. (“North Kalimantan Green Industrial Park”). But the minister did not specify whether this project had progressed. Indonesia is seeking to raise the ranks in the nickel industry. Having established a stainless steel manufacturing industry, the goal is now not only to develop the sector to turn ore into components for batteries, but to produce them directly on site, as well as electric vehicles – having an electric car industry built even in “National Priority” in 2019.

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