Indonesia has been a major player in the global mining industry for quite a while. Since 2006, mining has contributed to an increasingly larger share of Indonesia’s GDP, thanks to significant exports of copper, coal, nickel, gold, bauxite and tin.
Indonesia accounted for close to 20% of global nickel exports before its government imposed a ban on the sale of unprocessed nickel ore. In 2021, however, the country was responsible for 37% of the world’s total production of nickel and earned $20.9 billion from the export of nickel-based products.
The ban on nickel ore exports was preceded by strong nationalistic sentiment and policies that pushed mining companies to add value to the domestic market by processing and refining minerals such as nickel before exporting them. These policies also required that foreign investors reduce their holdings in mining companies that were operating on Indonesian soil.
The total ban on nickel exports was implemented in 2020, and although the move was challenged by the European Union, which claimed that the raw material ban was harming its stainless steel industry, Indonesia has raked in billions from exporting nickel-based products. The move to ban nickel exports came at a time when global demand for nickel is rapidly increasing. Demand had been going up steadily for the past decade, but the swift emergence of the EV industry caused nickel demand to boom and assured the nickel industry of a constant source of demand for the next few decades.
The demand for nickel for use in electric vehicle batteries is now expected to increase to around 665,000 tons globally in 2025 from 60,000 metric tons in 2018. Even if there is a reduction in nickel demand from China, one of the largest importers of Indonesian nickel exports, demand from the EV market will continue to increase as electric vehicles gain a foothold in the automobile market.
Statistics show that Indonesia’s nickel policies have been a major win for the country, resulting in a rapid increase in the export of nickel-containing metals and foreign direct investment in the nickel sector. Increased investment in the metal sector, particularly by Chinese and Korean investors, has allowed processors to focus on turning laterite nickel ore into nickel pig iron via pyrometallurgical treatment. Several companies plan on turning the ore into intermediate products for use in the production of battery cathodes.
In the meantime, the Indonesian government has also launched a joint venture, the Indonesia Battery Corporation, designed to expedite the growth of its electric vehicle ecosystem while simultaneously increasing demand for nickel.
The increasing demand for nickel isn’t only benefiting Indonesia. Players in the supply chain elsewhere, such as Canada Nickel Company Inc. (TSX.V: CNC) (OTCQX: CNIKF), are also banking on the exploding demand of this “green metal” as the transport sector shifts away from fossil fuels.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Canada Nickel Company Inc. (TSX.V: CNC) (OTCQX: CNIKF) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/CNIKF
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