Concerns over Indonesian Nickel Producers Accessing US Subsidies

Mining Nickel in the Forest of Sulawesi - Newsletter

Some of Australia’s largest nickel producers are increasingly concerned that the Biden administration will allow their big Indonesian rivals access to incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act – a huge subsidy to encourage the transition to clean energy – as early as next month.

Workers explore for nickel ore in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Australian miners are concerned that Indonesia’s producers will get access to US subsidies. “If the world wants batteries and EVs to be affordable and environmentally sustainable, investment in Australian and Canadian production must be encouraged,” Mr. Giacovazzi said.

Chalice Mining, which is working on the Gonneville nickel and copper project in Western Australia, is another group along with BHP that is concerned about the impact on local production if Indonesian groups are provided access to the subsidies. The Biden administration’s IRA is an attempt to accelerate the energy transition in the US and to secure sufficient supplies of the resources needed for lower-emission technologies.

“Indonesia also has laws restricting trade in critical minerals, and last year was publicly proposing an OPEC-like cartel for nickel-producing countries – policies that are clearly antithetical to ‘free trade agreements’,” the letter, obtained by The US and allies such as Australia and Canada are actively scaling domestic nickel production.

BHP, Wyloo, Chalice and other Australian players are focused on nickel sulfide mining which requires less energy-intensive refining. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced a doubling of critical minerals subsidies to $4 billion while in Washington last week, but nickel remains off the federal government’s list of critical minerals despite its use in batteries. Nickel has been on the US list of critical minerals since 2020.

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