Indonesia’s EV dream crashing on a lack of lithium – by John McBeth (Asia Times – May 15, 2023)


Indonesia importing a fraction of the lithium needed to crank up EV battery production with no clear new source in sight

JAKARTA – Delivering a speech on the sidelines of last year’s G20 Summit, President Joko Widodo pointed to lithium as the one crucial element Indonesia still needed to make electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Turning, he gestured towards Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese seated near him and observed: “That man has lithium.”

Nickel-rich Indonesia may be on the cusp of an EV battery revolution, but it still lacks a guaranteed supply of lithium for it to become a reality by 2025, the year Maritime Affairs and Investment Coordinating Minister Luhut Panjaitan has targeted for the first battery plant to go into operation.

“Australia is the best candidate to develop the EV battery industry because half of the world’s lithium is found in the country of the kangaroo,” Panjaitan told the Australia Indonesia Business Council in Perth last February as Indonesia began its search for a supplier.

According to a well-placed government source, however, the pioneering US$1.1 billion plant, a joint venture between South Korea’s LG Energy Solution, LG Chemical, POSCO, Huayou Holding and the state-owned Indonesia Battery Corp (IBC) known as HKML, is already facing major headwinds.

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