Chinese companies are investing billions in Indonesia’s nickel industry — but working conditions can be deadly – by Hellena Souisa, Kai Feng and Sally Brooks (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – November 4, 2023)

Chinese electrician Mr Ding says he saw co-workers die, a crane catch fire and worked for “175 days straight” during an 18-month stint at two nickel refining sites in Indonesia. His experiences left him with a critical view of the Chinese companies he worked for.

“There’s an old Chinese saying that money makes the devil work,” Mr Ding said. The 42-year-old, who requested to be identified only by his surname, worked as an electrician at two nickel refining hubs in Sulawesi between 2017 and 2020.

Despite now living in the United States, Mr Ding said he was still in contact with his former colleagues in the nickel industry. “[The workplaces are] still the same, exactly the same as before,” he said. ndonesia’s Human Rights Commission is investigating working conditions in the nickel refining industry and plans to release those findings soon.

Commissioner Anis Hidayah said there is a “lack of labour protection” for both local and foreign workers who were mainly from China. Indonesia is the largest miner and refiner of nickel in the world, thanks to billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese investment that poured into refining operations after the government banned the export of unprocessed minerals in 2014.

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