Wed, May 22, 2024

Indonesia’s Nickel Surge: 95% Coal Power in 2024

The Central Bank of Russia and crypto, nickel

Quick Look:

  • Nickel smelting causes local communities severe health problems and environmental impact.
  • Indonesia uses coal power for operations, bucking global clean energy trends.
  • The nickel market flooded, reducing global prices and affecting major producers.
  • Industry incidents and poor safety conditions highlight systemic management issues.
  • Indonesia’s boom conflicts with environmental sustainability goals.

Indonesia’s aggressive expansion into nickel smelting has established it as a global leader in the production. However, at a steep cost to the environment and local communities. This surge reshapes the global nickel market and casts a shadow over the country’s environmental commitments.

Nickel Factories Alter Lives in Upin’s Village

In Upin’s village, nickel factories are more than just an industrial footprint; it’s a life-altering force. Residents like Upin face a daily barrage of environmental and health issues. Reports indicate severe air pollution and disturbing health impacts on children, raising significant concerns about the long-term sustainability of these practices.

Further exacerbating the issue is Indonesia’s continued reliance on coal-powered plants to energise these operations. Despite global moves towards cleaner energy sources, Indonesia’s approach contrasts sharply with new coal developments spearheaded by China, which alone accounted for 95% of the world’s new coal power construction activity in 2023.

Nickel Price Plunge Shakes Global Giants

The ramifications of Indonesia’s nickel boom extend well beyond its borders. The flood of Indonesian nickel onto the global market has driven prices down significantly, pushing many international producers, including industry giants like BHP and Glencore, to reconsider their involvement in nickel production due to unsustainable profit margins.

Recent Factory Explosion Calls for Oversight

Frequent accidents and poor working conditions in nickel factories also plague the industry. A recent major factory explosion highlighted the lack of emergency preparedness and communication with affected families, drawing criticism and calls for better oversight. PT Indonesia Tsingshan Stainless Steel, involved in the incident, apologised.

Nickel Industry Criticised Amid EV Battery Race

Critics argue that Indonesia’s nickel industry hardly aligns with global environmental goals. As an environmental activist, Muhammad Taufik vehemently criticises the industry’s environmental track record, dismissing the notion of labelling the industry as a component of the green transition as a farce.

However, the industry attracts foreign investment, notably from Western auto giants like Volkswagen and Ford, keen on securing nickel for electric vehicle batteries. This involvement underscores the complex interplay between economic interests and environmental stewardship.

Economic Gain vs Sustainable Practices

Indonesia’s position as a top nickel producer is reshaping global markets and local ecosystems. While it champions economic growth and valuable export commodities, the costs—environmental degradation, health impacts, and compromised safety standards—paint a troubling picture. As the country forges ahead, balancing economic gains with sustainable practices remains a formidable challenge that will define Indonesia’s environmental legacy and its role on the global stage.

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