Indonesia allows nine companies to resume nickel ore exports; all set to start battery-grade nickel plants

Indonesia has allowed nine companies to resume nickel ore exports after inspections into reports of ore export rules violations, Reuters reports. Among the companies allowed to export ore again are state-controlled miner PT Aneka Tambang and PT Trimegah Bangun Persada, according to an official document reviewed by Reuters and verified by a mining ministry official on Monday.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest nickel ore exporter, had halted shipments on 28 October, 2019 following reports that showed a surge in exports after the country brought forward a ban on exports by two years to January. The export surge reportedly included large sales of high-grade nickel ore though Indonesia only allows exports of ore with less than 1.7% nickel content.

To export nickel ore, Indonesian miners are required to build smelters and authorities would review progress of their projects every six months.

The nine companies have shown that their smelter projects were progressing as planned, have valid exports approval documents and their ores met with required contents. Indonesian authorities were reviewing a total of 11 companies.

At least 20 vessels were held at ports after the government restricted the nickel ore exports.

Meanwhile the country is awaiting environment clearance for its factories to produce battery-grade nickel. investment plans for plants producing chemicals from nickel laterite worth $3.2 billion has already been committed.

Indonesia wants to become a global hub for producing and exporting electric vehicles (EVs) to Asia and beyond, starting by processing its rich supplies of nickel ore into battery chemicals before it starts building EVs.

The country will stop exporting nickel ore from January 2020, two years earlier than originally planned, in order to handle processing at home.

The government is also set to issue a new rule to allow the import of used lithium battery components to be recycled into a new batteries in Indonesia.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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