Industry warns low nickel reserves, demand immediate moratorium on smelters

Jakarta – The Association of Indonesian Mining Experts (Perhapi) reminded the government to issue a moratorium on new construction of nickel smelters, since there are nine years of domestic nickel reserves left. Indonesia banned exports of nickel ore since early 2020 and encouraged the domestic nickel downstream industry.

Perhapi Chairman, Rizal Kasli, in his statement earlier this week said that nickel reserves are currently worrying. “The durability of nickel reserves is only around nine years. A moratorium on the construction of new nickel smelters needs to be implemented,” he said.

According to him, the installed capacity of the smelter that is currently operating is around 135 million tons of input. There are 57 smelters that are entering the planning stage, with an input need of around 187 million tonnes of nickel ore per year. Thus, it is estimated that the total need for nickel ore grade 1.5% and above is around 415 million tonnes per year. In addition, there are still 28 smelters in the construction phase which require around 92 million tons of raw materials per year. Even though the total reserves of nickel currently are around 2.75 billion tonnes (Ni > 1.5%).

Thus, Kasli said, only a few companies will be able to survive because they have large reserves of nickel to support their smelters. He also suggested that the government, apart from implementing a moratorium on building new smelters, also activate further exploration both to find new reserves and convert resources into reserves.

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources Indonesia’s nickel commodity is currently the first largest in the world or equivalent to 23% of the global reserve. Indonesia has total nickel resources of 17.7 billion tons of ore and 177.8 million tons of metal, with reserves of 5.2 billion tons of ore and 57 million tons of metal. The nickel producing areas that have not been explored or green fields include the provinces of Southeast Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Maluku, North Maluku, Papua and West Papua. (Hartatik)

Banner photo: North Morowali, Indonesia. 26, November-2022: Continuation of Furronickel Smelter Construction, production of ferronickel. (Eklesia_Magelo/

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