Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan (B1 Photo)

Tesla to Submit Investment Proposal as Indonesia's Battery Plan Is Taking Shape

BY :JAKARTA GLOBE

FEBRUARY 04, 2021

Jakarta. Indonesia has expected Tesla, the world's largest carmaker company by market capitalization, to submit a proposal about the company's plan to establish a car battery plant and energy storage system in the archipelago today, as the country's plan to dominate the electric car battery market begins to take shape. 

Tesla's proposal could be one in a series of ore processing and battery investments that the government hope would make up the bulk of the country's $64 billion investment target for this year. 

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said on Wednesday that preliminary discussion with Tesla had gone well despite challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"We have already made six video calls... I think today or tomorrow we will receive their proposals," Luhut said in a seminar held by Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) on Wednesday. 

"We don't know how big it is, but what we do know is that we cannot disclose too much detail to the public because the [non-disclosure agreement] has been signed," Luhut said. 

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has made his intention clear to leverage Indonesia's nickel reserve, the largest globally, to establish a country's car battery manufacturing industry.

Last October, the state-owned mining holding company Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Mind ID), Aneka Tambang, and the state energy firm Pertamina and utility company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) set up Indonesia Baterai, a holding company that would involve in the electric car battery supply chain and distribution. 

Contemporary Amperex Technology, or CATL, a battery manufacturer from China, and South Korea's largest chemical company LG Chem have committed their investment in battery manufacturing to take in the nickel supplied by the Indonesian holding company. 

Bahlil Lahadalia, the head of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), said separately that LG Chem had booked a piece of land in the government-sponsored Batang Industrial Complex in Central Java. 

Speculation about battery investments has fueled the rally of Indonesia's nickel producers in the past few months. State-controlled miner Aneka Tambang (Antam) saw its stock prices rose by 237 percent since last October. The share price of Antam's rival, Vale Indonesia, also jumped 63 percent over the period, trading at 31.5 percent of its earnings. 

"The government wants to downstream from the battery industry in Indonesia," Septian Hario Seto, the deputy for investment and mining at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment, told CNBC Indonesia. 

"The supply chain of lithium batteries is quite long, nickel ore is extracted from nickel, and cobalt is made a precursor to the cathode and then mixed with anodes into cell batteries, cell batteries will be built into battery packs," Septian said. 

"What we are saying to LG, CATL, and to Tesla that at least 70 percent of the nickel they obtain in Indonesia must be processed into the battery pack, not just semi-finished battery or cathode that they then export," he said.

 

Freeport and Tsingshan

Jokowi target a total of Rp 900 trillion ($64 billion) in domestic and foreign investments this year, up from Rp 826 trillion last year. Luhut said he was confident the country could easily reach the target with investments in the electric battery supply chain. 

Apart from Tesla's, CATL's, and LG Cham's proposed investment, Freeport Indonesia also makes its mark in Indonesia's battery grand plan.   

Luhut said the country's largest gold miner was finalizing a $2.8 billion deal with a Chinese steelmaker Tsingshan Steel to build a copper smelter in Weda Bay, an industrial complex focusing on nickel processing in Halmahera, North Maluku. 

"The agreement between Tsingshan and Freeport in Weda Bay, Halmahera, is being finalized. The deal is for a copper smelter, which produces sulfuric acid as a byproduct," Luhut said. 

The minister said nickel ore smelters in Weda Bay could use the sulfuric acid in their production process. 

"If all goes according to plan, in 2023, we will produce the NM811 lithium battery, which is the latest technology," he said.

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