Indonesia targets starting up EV battery plants in 2023

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia is aiming to start making lithium batteries for use in electric vehicles in 2023, alongside plants that are already slated to produce chemicals used in the batteries, according to the minister who oversees the energy and mining ministry.

FILE PHOTO: Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Jakarta, Indonesia November 28, 2016. Picture taken November 28, 2016.REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said he wants investors to start putting money into plants to make batteries alongside the plants that will soon be producing battery chemicals extracted from nickel ore.

“We are in coordination with GEM and CATL to build lithium battery plants in Indonesia,” Pandjaitan told reporters, referring to Chinese battery firm GEM Co Ltd and Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd.

The companies and their partners, which include stainless steel maker Tsingshan Holding Group, are building Indonesia’s first plant to produce battery chemicals.

Pandjaitan said the government is looking at Patimban in West Java as a potential location for building battery plants.

“I asked them to work on this at the same time (with the battery chemical plants),” he said.

“In 2023, everything must be finished.”

GEM expects to start trial production at its Indonesian battery chemicals plant in August 2020, with the first phase of operations up and running by the end of next year, its president said in November.

GEM and its partners are currently waiting for environmental approval to proceed further with the development of the plant. Pandjaitan said the government hopes the environmental impact studies can be completed by the end of the year.

The government moved forward a ban on nickel ore exports by two years to January 2020 to process more of the country’s mining output domestically.

Reporting by Wilda Asmarini; Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Tom Hogue