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Indonesia in talks with Chinese battery companies for lithium battery project

The Indonesian government is in talks with Chinese battery companies GEM Co. Ltd. and Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. to build lithium battery plants in the Southeast Asian nation, Reuters reported Dec. 10, citing Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia's coordinating minister for maritime and investment affairs.

A consortium led by Gem, Contemporary and Tsingshan Holding Group Co. Ltd. is already developing a battery chemicals project in the Morowali Industrial Park in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province.

The companies aim to set up nickel smelting capacity of at least 50,000 tonnes per year, 4,000 tonnes of cobalt smelting capacity and produce a range of battery chemicals, including 50,000 tonnes per year of nickel hydroxide intermediates.

Indonesia is looking at Patimban in West Java province as a possible site for the lithium battery plants, which should be finished alongside the other project by 2023, Pandjaitan said in the report.

GEM and its partners are reportedly waiting for environmental approval for the battery chemicals plant. Trial production is expected in August 2020, with the first phase of operations going online in late 2020.

Indonesia expedited a ban on nickel ore exports to January 2020 from January 2022 to boost local processing of the country's mining output.

Indonesia recently said that it would miss its target to build 68 smelters by 2022 as it forecast that only 52 will be finished by that year.