Analysis: Southeast Asian nickel ore producers may miss the boat on EV demand – by Eric Yep ( – February 8, 2018)

Two key Southeast Asian nickel ore producers that shaped the market in recent years — the Philippines and Indonesia — are poorly placed to take advantage of a boom in battery demand from the growing electric vehicles market.

Their predicament stems from the lack of technology and investment needed to produce Class 1 battery-grade nickel sulphate — a direct outcome of the regulatory policies enforced by the two countries in recent years.

Two years ago, the Philippines and Indonesia were two of the world’s largest producers of nickel ore, accounting for a third of global production. The type of nickel laterite ore produced by them largely feeds the steel industry in China.

An upgrade in production capabilities to meet battery demand requires access to metallurgical processes that are both expensive and proprietary, and heightened political risk has made foreign investors reluctant to boost investment in mining.

In Indonesia, prolonged resource nationalism saw an outright ban on the exports of unprocessed nickel ore in January 2014 that forced mines to shut, leading to the loss of thousands of jobs, disrupting supply chains and losing millions of dollars in revenue.

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