Indonesia expects delay to $11bn nickel projects over coronavirus

Tsingshan mine at Indonesia’s Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP) – Image courtesy of Nickel Mines Ltd

Indonesia’s coordinating minister overseeing maritime resources and investment affairs said on Tuesday that the coronavirus outbreak in China will likely delay development of nickel projects in the Southeast Asian country worth about $11 billion.

Minister Luhut Pandjaitan told reporters that projects being developed in Morowali and Konawe on Sulawesi island and in Weda Bay in North Maluku will be affected by measures taken in China to rein in the epidemic that have curbed industrial activity.

Among major investors in the locations Pandjaitan mentioned is China’s Tsingshan Group, involved in projects in Morowali and Weda Bay.

The disease has now killed almost 2,700 people in mainland China and spread to dozens of countries around the globe including Italy, Iran and South Korea.

“It will have impacts on the projects and in turn affect exports that should have started this year,” the minister said, “Some of them will be delayed by months.”

He said he also expects delays in the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail project, which is a part of China’s ambitious “Belt and Road” infrastructure investment programme.

Indonesia’s central bank last week cut its key benchmark policy rates to cushion the impact of the virus, which is expected to hit the country’s tourism and broader trade with China, its top trading partner and source of foreign direct investment.

(By Wilda Asmarini and Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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