Jakarta – Indonesia remains a significant player in the nickel industry by having the world’s largest nickel reserves, equivalent to 23% of global reserves, according to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (EMR).
Special Staff of the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources for the Acceleration of Mineral and Coal Governance Irwandy Arif, in an official statement, said that total nickel resources in Indonesia reached 17.7 billion tonnes of ore and 177.8 million tonnes of metal, including reserves of 5.2 billion tonnes of ore and 57 million tonnes of metal.
In addition, the additional potential exists in unexplored areas (greenfield), such as Southeast Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Maluku, North Maluku, Papua and West Papua.
“If we look at it now, the reserves reach 5.2 billion tonnes of ore, with almost equal amounts of saprolite and limonite, and the resources reach around 17 billion tonnes. We must turn this into reserves through deeper exploration efforts,” said Arif.
He continued that the critical step to expand reserves is to explore greenfield areas with the potential for significant nickel content. Arif emphasised that this opportunity is still open for investors in nickel mining, adding that “the age (of nickel) and the amount of reserves and resources will increase if we intensify this level of exploration. Big investments are needed to increase the existing reserves.”
To maintain nickel reserves in the long term, reducing nickel ore consumption by producing NPI (nickel pig iron, a lower grade ferronickel) and ferronickel products that can be further processed into stainless steel as a step in industrialisation. “We need to encourage (investors) who already have Rotary Kiln Electric Furnace (RKEF) technology for NPI and ferronickel production,” he continued.
Encouraging the production of NPI and ferronickel towards stainless steel can reduce the consumption of nickel ore at an early stage. This is very important to keep our nickel supply chain in balance.
With the vast potential in nickel greenfield areas still available and the opportunities offered by the nickel downstream industry, Indonesia is an attractive option for investors looking to develop investments in the nickel mining sector. (Hartatik)
Banner photo: Nickel mining in South Sulawesi (Putu Artana/shutterstock.com)