Cancellation of Nickel Investments Should Be a Wake-Up Call for Indonesia – by Krista Shennum (The Diplomat – July 05, 2024)

The government’s break-neck drive to exploit its nickel deposits should not come at the expense of human rights and the environment.

On June 24, two multinational mining and mineral processing giants, France-based Eramet and Germany-based BASF, announced that they would cancel plans for a $2.6 billion nickel-cobalt refinery located within the Indonesia Weda Bay Industrial Park (IWIP), in North Maluku, Indonesia.

The companies cited commercial reasons, but the Indonesian government would be short-sighted to ignore other concerns. In an indirect reference to human rights and environmental concerns with nickel processing operations at IWIP, a BASF spokesperson said the company needs a “secure, responsible, and sustainable supply of critical raw materials.” Implicit in the companies’ statements is that they are concerned about increasing their reputational risk through a new investment at IWIP.

The announcement will be welcomed by communities living near IWIP, whose human rights and environment are threatened by the growing nickel industry. In January, Climate Rights International released a 124-page report, “Nickel Unearthed: The Human and Climate Costs of Indonesia’s Nickel Industry,” documenting how the massive, multi-billion-dollar IWIP industrial complex in North Maluku and nearby nickel mining is violating the rights of local communities, including Indigenous peoples, causing significant deforestation, air and water pollution, and emitting massive amounts of greenhouse gases from captive coal plants exacerbating global warming and the climate crisis worldwide.

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