Ford signs nickel smelter deal with Vale Indonesia, Huayou (Nikkei Asia – March 31, 2023)

Equity investments are part of $4.5bn development of Sulawesi block

JAKARTA — Ford Motor has signed a definitive agreement with the Indonesian unit of Brazilian mining giant Vale and Chinese battery materials producer Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt for joint investments in a nickel smelter project in Indonesia.

The three companies are making equity investments in the development of a high-pressure acid leaching (HPAL) plant in Pomalaa Block, Vale’s nickel mining and processing complex on the southeastern part of Sulawesi island that broke ground in November. Vale earlier said that investments are estimated to reach up to 67.5 trillion rupiah ($4.5 billion) to develop the block’s mining operations and refinery.

The plant will process nickel ore from Vale’s mine into mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP), which the companies described as “a lower-cost nickel product” used in electric vehicle batteries with nickel-rich cathodes.

It will have an annual production capacity of up to 120,000 tonnes of contained nickel in MHP, with early site preparations already starting and construction expected to commence this year. Commercial operations are targeted to begin in 2026.

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