Indonesia to include nickel in online tracking system from next year

JAKARTA: Indonesia plans to include nickel shipments in the government’s online tracking system from next year as it moves to improve governance, mining minister Arifin Tasrif said on Friday (Nov 17).

With major reserves of the metal, Indonesia is in talks with the United States for a potential trade partnership on minerals critical for electric vehicles, but Washington has concerns about its environmental, social and governance standards.

Indonesia hopes to adopt the policy next year to track nickel shipments, Arifin told reporters, targeting “measurable, orderly, and controlled” shipments in the supply chain.

Its SIMBARA online system, used by government bodies, tracks movement of ore from mines to buyers, and was first used for coal shipments last year to monitor supplies.

Indonesia will also set up a task force to reach a deal soon with the United States on critical minerals, Arifin said.

It banned exports of raw nickel in 2020 to successfully draw investment into domestic processing plants. But environmentalists blame the rapid expansion for deforestation and water pollution in some of its nickel hubs.

Indonesia holds about 20 per cent of global nickel reserves, the ASEAN grouping of Southeast Asian nations estimates.

In September, it asked the United States to begin talks for the trade deal for critical minerals so that its exports could be covered under the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

With its only nickel mine set to close in a few years, the United States has no nickel smelter, a risk to President Joe Biden’s goal for the country to lead in EV manufacturing.

One estimate puts the global market value for the nickel industry at US$33.5 billion in 2022, though the market is over-supplied.

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