RI Finally Has 3 Giant Facilities, the Biggest of their Kind in the World

26 June 2023

The government of RI President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has an impressive program for downstreaming the minerals industry. This program is leading Indonesia to successfully establish facilities for the downstream production of mineral commodities such as nickel and copper foil, as well as the world’s biggest copper cathode plant. Through these three facilities, Indonesia is closer to fulfilling its dream to becoming ‘king’ of electric vehicle batteries production. Here is a look at the 3 plants producing the raw materials for electric vehicle batteries:  

First, Indonesia through its downstreaming program is successfully producing nickel sulfate, a primary raw material for the electric vehicle battery cathode precursor. This production of nickel sulfate is conducted by Harita Nickel by way of its business unit PT Halmahera Persada Lygend (PT HPL), which is affiliated with PT Trimegah Bangun Persada Tbk (NCKL). Recently NCKL officially launched the first nickel sulfate production operation in Indonesia, and the biggest in the world. The inauguration of this nickel sulfate production operation with a capacity of 240 thousand tons per year took place at the Harita Nickel operations site on Pulau Obi, South Halmahera Regency, North Maluku Province.

The nickel sulfate plant built on Pulau Obi is claimed to become the first such production facility in Indonesia and the biggest in the world in terms of production capacity. The first export of 5,584 tons of nickel sulfate packed in 290 containers was carried out on 16 June 2023. 

Second, a copper plant or a copper processing and refining facility/ smelter belonging to PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) is being built, located in the JIIPE Special Economic Zone (KEK) in Gresik, East Java. As  of June 2023, the copper plant project had achieved 70.6% progress.  This copper plant touted to become  the biggest  single line smelter in the world will take in 1.7 million tons of copper concentrate per year, to produce 600 thousand tons of copper cathode per year. 

In addition to copper cathode, the smelter will produce the byproduct anode slime, which contains pure gold and silver, amounting to 6 thousand tons per year.  Other byproducts include 1.5 million tons of sulfuric acid per year, 1.3 million tons of copper slag per year, and 150 thousand tons of gypsum per year. The smelter will absorb a workforce of 150 thousand, of which 98% will be comprised of Indonesian nationals, and 50% of local residents. 

Third, without any fanfare a China-based company, PT Hailiang Nova Material Indonesia is building a copper foil plant in KEK JIIPE, Gresik, East Java. This copper foil plant is claimed to become the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia, with the copper foil product able to be utilized as an electricity conductor for electric vehicles. The plant will be producing electrodeposited copper foil for electric vehicles powered by lithium batteries. 

This facility is built with a capacity of 100 thousand tons per year in 2 phases and is projected to absorb a workforce of 1,920. The groundbreaking ceremony for this copper foil plant was held on Tuesday (20/06/2023) and was attended by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi). “Once again I deeply appreciate development of this plant, with the hopes that the project will be completed within 12 months for subsequent operation,” President Jokowi said in his address delivered KEK Gresik, East Java on Tuesday (20/06/2023).

Jokowi said this plant is strategically located next to the copper smelter belonging to PT Freeport Indonesia and will thus directly take in the copper cathodes produced by Freeport. "This means the product from the PT Freeport Indonesia smelter located in the same area will be taken in to become a finished or semi-finished product, such as lithium batteries or EV batteries or EVs,” Jokowi said. 



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