Antam, Chinese companies to build cathode and ferronickel plants. A publicly listed diversified mining company, PT Aneka Tambang Tbk (Antam), plans to team up with two Chinese companies to produce cathodes and ferronickel, which would require a multi-billion-dollar investment.
Antam announced it hopes the head of agreement (HoA) for the two downstream nickel projects could be signed soon.
For the production of the cathodes, which would be used in the manufacturing an electric vehicle (EV) batteries, Antam is to cooperate with a private cobalt supplier, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Company Ltd., Antam president director Arie Prabowo Ariotedjo said. He estimated the cathode project would require an investment of between US$6 billion and $12 billion.
Arie said that Antam’s parent company Inalum woud also participate in the cathode project while state energy holding company Pertamina was expected to be involved in incorporating the cathodes into EV batteries.
“This project [with Huayou] is aimed at processing first-class nickel to be used for EV batteries. We hope to sign the HoA with the Chinese firm this month and then follow that with a joint-venture agreement three months after,” he said on Monday.
Arie said two plants would process nickel ore to make cathodes. One would be located at Antam’s nickel mine in Tanjung Buli, East Halmahera and another at its nickel mine in North Konawe, Southeast Sulawesi. Arie said that the two locations were picked because of their proximity to their nickel resources.
Meanwhile, in the second deal, Antam is to cooperate with a Chinese nickel and pig iron producer, Shandong Xinhai, to build a ferronickel plant on Gag Island in Papua. This project would require an investment of about $1.2 billion.
Arie said that the plants are to produce about 40,000 tons of ferronickel and 600,000 tons of stainless steel.
“Currently we are still surveying the location in Sorong, Papua because the project needs about 500 hectares of land,” he said, adding that logistics was a crucial consideration for deciding on a location.
In the second deal, Arie said Shandong Xinhai had agreed to let Antam become the majority shareholder. Both deals would also include or be followed by the construction of a coal-fired power plant in each of the project locations.
However, the coal would not necessarily be supplied by state coal mining company PT Bukit Asam (PTBA), said Arie. “We will look for the most efficient deal. It could come from other companies,” he added.
Arie and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno and several top officials of SOEs, such as Inalum president director Budi Gunadi Sadikin and Pertamina president director Nicke Widyawati, visited China last week to discuss the projects.
SOE Minister Rini Soemarno said the government would cooperate with Chinese companies in order to speed up the development of the downstream industry in the mining sector.
“We want that Inalum to have a strategic partner for technology and development which then could speed up the realization of our downstream mission,” she said during her visit to China.
Furthermore, Inalum president director Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that the firm picked Huayou as a possible partner because of its experience in the mining sector, especially involving cobalt, nickel and integrated lithium.
“Huayou is one of the partners that we want to work with in the future because of its vast experience in mining and it has been partnered with a number of world-class companies,” he said.
The development of downstream facilities has become one of the main priorities for state mining companies like Antam and Inalum because by 2022 the export ban on unprocessed ores would be fully enforced.
Antam has two main commodities that could be affected when the ban comes into effect, nickel ore and bauxite, the production of which grew more than 50 percent last year.
Antam has already developed three downstream plants: the Haltim Ferronickel Plant Development Project (P3FH) in East Halmahera, the Smelter Grade Alumina Refinery (SGAR) in Mempawah, West Kalimantan and the East Halmahera Blast Furnace Nickel Pig Iron. Antam, Chinese companies to build cathode and ferronickel plants (NPI, Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post)