Nickel Smelter Industry Activity In South Sulawesi Generates Public Protests – OpEd – by Silvanah (Eurasia Review – January 9, 2023)


The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) noted that Indonesia has a nickel mine of 520,877.07 hectares (ha). The mines are spread across seven provinces, including Maluku, North Maluku, Papua, West Papua, South Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi.

In 2020 the export value of Indonesia’s raw nickel ore is around $200 million. But in 2021 President Joko Widodo instituted a new ban on the export of raw ore in an effort to catalyze the domestic nickel processing industry.

The Chief Minister for Investment, Luhut Panjaitan, said in September 2022 that investment in the Morowali Industrial Zone, in Central Sulawesi province, was set to nearly triple between 2019 and 2022 to around $18 billion.

Indonesia has the world’s largest reserves of nickel, and is touted to produce raw materials for batteries for electric vehicles that are expected to reduce emissions and pollution from transportation over the next decade. However, the presence of nickel smelters in Indonesia actually has a negative impact on environmental quality and disrupts the health of local residents around nickel smelters.

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