EV transition drives Indonesia’s ‘dirty’ nickel boom – by A. Anantha Lakshmi (Financial Times – June 20, 2024)


Environmentalists accuse Jakarta of prioritising mining of key commodity over nation’s biodiverse rainforests

In just four years, Indonesia’s nickel industry has undergone a transformation — becoming a pivotal supplier of the commodity critical to electric vehicle batteries. But, as its importance grows, so has the south-east Asian nation’s reputation as a producer of “dirty” nickel.

Indonesia is now the world’s dominant supplier of the metal, following a boom triggered by President Joko Widodo’s ban on exports of raw nickel ore, in a bid to force foreign businesses to invest in the country and set up domestic processing plants.

Chinese companies responded promptly, pumping in billions of dollars to secure supplies of a metal crucial to the transition away from combustion engines. This reshaping of the car industry has boosted Indonesia’s exports, brought in record amounts of foreign direct investment, and transformed its current account balance.

But critics say that has all come at a huge environmental cost and accuse the government of prioritising nickel extraction over the archipelagic nation’s rainforests.

For the rest of this article: https://www.ft.com/content/149f1153-d745-4b51-ba5e-7c118d30cf23