Two mining firms have reportedly started working on plans in Indonesia that could pave the way for launching a battery metals production facility.
Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining is conducting a feasibility study for the proposed project with PT Vale Indonesia, according to Reuters.
The companies have designs on establishing a nickel processing projecting in Pomalaa, southeast Sulawesi—an island east of Borneo. The operation would target previously overlooked reserves of the metal in Indonesia, Reuterssaid.
The plant would reportedly make an intermediate nickel and cobalt product, which would then be processed into nickel sulphate for batteries. The feasibility study is expected to take two years to complete.
PT Vale is reportedly working on obtaining environmental permits for a 40,000-tonne smelter to process ore using high-pressure acid leach (HPAL) technology.
Sumitomo and PT Vale are the latest mining companies lining up to meet anticipated global demand for nickel and other battery materials as the electric vehicle market gathers pace.
Separately, Liu Cheng, chief engineer of the China ENFI Engineering Corp, has said his company is conducting its own studies into four projects in Indonesia using HPAL technology to produce battery-grade nickel.
Vale Indonesia recently made news in Brazil, where their Brucutu mine in Minas Gerais is set to become the first to operate solely with autonomous trucks.