The Dirty, Deadly Price We Pay for Clean Cars – by Janet Paskin, Yang Yang, Naomi Ng and Jessica Beck (Bloomberg News – June 17, 2024)

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Indonesia’s nickel business is booming. The metal is a key component in electric car batteries, but its success has a dark side. The country’s nickel mines and processing plants have a history of fatal accidents, with workers being run over by forklifts and burnt to death in smelter fires.

Today on The Big Take Asia, host Janet Paskin speaks with Bloomberg Businessweek editor Matt Campbell about his investigation into the mines. He found that nickel sourced from these plants are present in the supply chain that feeds virtually every major seller of EVs, and is an indispensable part of the car industry’s green revolution.

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Here is a lightly edited transcript of the conversation:

Janet Paskin: If you drive an electric vehicle, chances are you’re relying on nickel every time you get behind the wheel. The metal is a crucial ingredient in EV batteries – and these days a lot of that nickel comes from Indonesia – specifically – the island of Sulawesi.

Matt Campbell: So the island of Sulawesi is gigantic. And it’s in the eastern half of Indonesia. It’s kind of shaped like a claw. It has several peninsulas that all shoot off from the central landmass with amazing beaches, huge mountains, volcanoes, this pretty amazing place from a geographical perspective.

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