Bukaka builds nickel smelter powered by river water

Bukaka Teknik Utama is spending about USD 2bn to build nickel smelters powered by river water, as the engineering company seeks to enter the booming electric-vehicle battery industry.

The Indonesian company that’s part of Kalla Group, held by former vice president Jusuf Kalla, is constructing plants on the eastern island of Sulawesi to produce ferronickel and nickel sulfate, which is a key material for making batteries. Bukaka will supply all 31,400 tons of nickel sulfate produced by the plant each year to South Korea’s POSCO Holdings Inc. The facility will also produce 33,000 tons of ferronickel for stainless steel.

President Joko Widodo’s ambition for Indonesia to have its own end-to-end electric vehicle battery industry is starting to come together. Companies including LG Energy Solution and Hyundai Motor Group are setting up battery and electric vehicle plants in the country, which has the nickel reserves, while top nickel producers Vale SA and Tsingshan Holding Group Co. are building smelters to refine the metal.

Last week, state-owned Indonesia Battery Corporation signed USD 15bn of deals with companies including LG Energy Solution and Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. to set up integrated EV battery projects.

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