Finland’s Metso Outotec has followed up its recent major €360 million copper smelter deal with PT Freeport Indonesia with a significant new equipment order for a nickel plant in the country. Indonesia is in the middle of a nickel production expansion boom, with reports more than US$20 billion could be spent on new processing plants over the next four years.
Brazil’s Vale and local producer Antam are expanding nickel output in Indonesia and China-backed PT Huayou Nickel Cobalt (Indonesia) is proposing to invest $2.08 billion in a 120,000 tonnes per annum nickel (plus 15,000tpa cobalt) operation at Weda Bay in North Maluku.
Helsinki-listed Metso Outotec said it was supplying about €24m of horizontal grinding mills (five) and thickeners (13) to a greenfield nickel project in Indonesia.
It said in July this year it had won a contract to design and build a 1.7 million tonnes per annum copper smelter for PT Freeport, with commissioning slated for 2024. Metso Outotec said it had delivered 51 copper flame smelters worldwide.
Copper and nickel demand and pricing are rising on the back of global electrification and battery storage market growth. A recent Macquarie Bank report suggested Indonesia’s share of worldwide nickel production could surge from 28% to 60% this decade. “Our database of Indonesia high-pressure, acid-leach [nickel] projects for batteries now contains eight announced projects with a combined capacity of almost 450,000 tonnes a year of nickel and 50,000 tonnes of cobalt,” Macquarie said.
The bank forecast Indonesia’s installed nickel production capacity could reach 1.788Mt of nickel a year by the end of 2021 versus last year’s output of 600,000t.
Deloitte has said worldwide electric vehicle sales could expand to 21 million units in 2023, up from two million units in 2018. CRU Mobility and Energy Futures has said the EV market will likely need 1.3Mt of nickel per year by 2030, compared with 600,000t in 2018.