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Violent protests paralyze China-backed nickel smelter in Indonesia – reports

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Violent protests paralyze China-backed nickel smelter in Indonesia – reports

Operations were disrupted at Jiangsu Delong Nickel Industry Co. Ltd.'s Virtue Dragon nickel smelter on Sulawesi Island in Indonesia when protests by about 800 workers turned violent Dec. 15, Reuters reported Dec. 16, citing a company statement.

The smelter is operated by PT Virtue Dragon Nickel Industry, a subsidiary of De Long Nickel Co. Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Jiangsu Delong Nickel, according to the report.

Protesters set fire to 40 vehicles and various buildings after calling for pay increases and permanent employment for contractors, damaging factory supporting equipment and prompting a suspension of operations, the report said. No casualties were reported, and five protesters were arrested.

The situation calmed down the same day, and the site was being guarded by police and military forces, the South China Morning Post reported Dec. 15, citing local journalist and CNN contributor Zainal Ishak.

Students in the region have been protesting since March against the planned arrival of 500 Chinese workers at various nickel smelter developments, flagging the loss of local jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the South China Morning Post.

The Virtue Dragon smelter has an annual capacity of 120,000 tonnes of nickel, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

Indonesia hosts nickel laterite ore, which it aims to process for use in lithium batteries, in line with a target of becoming a global electric vehicle hub.