Report outlines cost of Indonesia’s EV dream as Chinese-funded nickel plants linked to pollution, ‘land grabbing’ – by Resty Woro Yuniar (South China Morning Post – January 17, 2024)

A new report accuses a massive China-funded nickel industrial complex in Indonesia’s Maluku province of causing “significant” environmental destruction and existential threats to indigenous peoples in the area, adding to the array of issues the nation faces in becoming a major player in the global electric vehicle (EV) supply chain.

Released on Wednesday by the US-based Climate Rights International (CRI) advocacy group, the report also alleges that the Indonesia Weda Bay Industrial Park (IWIP) in Halmahera, Maluku, worked with Indonesian police to protect the interests of some nickel miners by engaging in “land grabbing, coercion and intimidation of indigenous peoples”.

The CRI report puts a fresh spotlight on China-funded nickel projects in Indonesia, where activists and workers’ unions have raised concerns about safety after a string of fatal accidents. Last month, an explosion killed 10 Indonesians and eight Chinese workers in a nickel smelter linked to China’s Tsingshan Holding Group, at the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park in Sulawesi, another mining hub.

“While our report does not focus on labour conditions or workers’ rights, the long history of labour rights abuses by Chinese companies operating internationally, and the lack of meaningful government oversight of the nickel industry as demonstrated in our report, is a serious cause for concern,” CRI researcher Krista Shennum told This Week in Asia on Tuesday.

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