Bakrie Group seeks nickel mine, partners up for $9 billion EV project

South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Indonesian conglomerate Bakrie & Brothers is looking to acquire a nickel mine in the resource-rich island of Sulawesi to supply a planned integrated industrial park to produce electric vehicle batteries, an executive said on Friday.

Also known as the Bakrie Group, which has interests in coal mining, media and property, the conglomerate launched a consortium last month with Chinese energy firm Envision and global commodity giant Glencore to explore investment into an industrial park for the global nickel supply chain.

The company’s chief executive Anindya Bakrie told a forum on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos this week the planned 2,000-hectare (nearly 5,000 acres) park will need $9 billion worth of investments for everything from nickel smelting to manufacturing batteries.

Gilarsi W. Setijono, chief executive of Bakrie Group’s EV distributor unit PT VKTR Teknologi Mobilitas, said the Indonesian company plans to acquire a nickel mine in Central or Southeast Sulawesi to supply the park.

“[The mine will] have enough reserves for around 140 Gigawatt-hours (of batteries) in the next 25 years,” he told reporters, without disclosing further details.

The consortium, called Indo-pacific Net-zero Battery-materials Consortium (INBC), has set a target to start producing nickel-based precusors – used to make EV batteries – by 2026, with an annual capacity equivalent to 120 GWh to be sold to Britain and European markets, Gilarsi said.

It also aims to produce 20 GWh worth of EV batteries per year by 2028 for both domestic and export markets, he said.

The consortium will launch a pre-feasibility study in March and firm up each company’s investment afterwards, Gilarsi said, noting that Bakrie Group hopes to become a controlling stakeholder.

Separately, Bakrie’s VTKR plans to launch a $60 million initial public offering in the first half of 2023 to invest in its own EV production, Gilarsi said.

Indonesia is keen capitalise on its rich nickel reserves to develop battery and EV industries. Once a major exporter of nickel ore, it stopped outbound shipments of the raw material in 2020 to make sure investors have enough for domestic processing.

Envision and Glencore did not immediately respond to request for comments.

(By Stefanno Sulaiman; Editing by Gayatri Suroyo and Kanupriya Kapoor)

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