Indonesia drawing plans to restrict nickel pig iron, ferronickel smelters – by Bernadette Christina (Reuters – June 24, 2021)

JAKARTA (Reuters) -Indonesia is considering a plan to restrict construction of smelters producing nickel pig iron or ferronickel in order to optimise use of its limited nickel ore reserves for higher-value products, a senior mining ministry official said on Thursday.

Indonesia is currently the biggest producer of the two crude metals, and a restriction on more smelters coming online could hit Chinese stainless steel producers who are among biggest customers for Indonesia’s relatively cheaper materials.

Restricting construction of new smelters is deemed necessary because of limited reserves of saprolite nickel ore, Ridwan Djamaluddin, a senior official at Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, told Reuters as the government discussed the plan with a parliamentary committee.

“Based on the input capacity of existing and under construction pyrometallurgical plants, assuming there is no further exploration, if constructions are not limited this high grade nickel ore reserve will only last for less than 20 years,” he said.

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