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BASF, Eramet Near $2.6 Billion Indonesia Deal To Process Nickel For EV batteries

Nickel industry

Germany’s BASF and French miner Eramet are finalising a $2.6 billion partnership deal to invest in a facility in Indonesia to process nickel for use in batteries for electric vehicles, Indonesian officials said.

The announcement comes as Southeast Asia’s biggest economy has been courting global companies to build facilities to produce EV batteries and electric cars to exploit the country’s rich nickel resources.

The project investment would be worth around 2.4 billion euros ($2.59 billion), the investment ministry said, citing BASF chief executive Martin Bruderm├╝ller.

“We would like to convey that our agreement with Eramet is at the final stage. It is likely that our decision will be taken in the first half of 2023,” the ministry quoted Bruderm├╝ller as saying.

The project would be developed in Indonesia’s Weda Bay to produce mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) from nickel through a high-pressure acid leach (HPAL) plant, it said. MHP is used in electric vehicle batteries.

BASF and Eramet’s investment plan was in line with the government’s “aspirations to set up Indonesia as world-class EV player,” said Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia.

Indonesia is also finalising agreements with Chinese automaker BYD Group and Tesla to invest in EV production facilities, a senior cabinet minister said on Tuesday.

Once the biggest supplier of nickel to the global stainless steel industry, nickel producers in Indonesia have been retooling so they can take advantage of the growing demand for nickel in batteries.

While overall battery demand for nickel makes up a small portion of the 3 million tonne market, Indonesia is primed to become the world’s biggest supplier as it builds out some 4.5 million tonnes of capacity that can supply both markets over the next five years, analysts estimate.

An investor presentation by Eramet this month showed that the planned new plant is expected to start production in early 2026, subject to a final investment decision, with an output capacity of up to 67,000 tonnes of nickel and around 7,000 tonnes of cobalt per year contained in MHP.

Investment into MHP production in Indonesia has so far been dominated by Chinese companies such as Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt and Tsingshan Holding Group.

Eramet would own 51% of the project, while BASF would hold 49%, the presentation showed.

BASF and Eramet could not immediately be reached for comment.

Separately, Australia’s Nickel Industries said on Wednesday it will raise $471 million in capital to help fund the acquisition of several nickel projects in Indonesia.

To develop battery nickel, the company will also look to collaborate with Shanghai Decent Investment (Group) Co Ltd, a unit of the Tsingshan Group.

($1 = 0.9270 euros)

(Reporting by Bernadette Christina in Jakarta, Rishav Chatterjee in Bengaluru and Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing by Ed Davies

Bernadette Christina
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