Suddenly the Western world is listening to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia. His words during a party meeting at the beginning of February set off alarm bells and during these weeks his worrying plans have come to fruition, at least for the rest of the countries.

Indonesia bans mineral exports. In a protectionist push for national resources, the Indonesian government has explained that it wants to ban copper exports by “perhaps mid-year.”

It is not the only material, since they have anticipated that they want to block the export of tin and gold, in addition to others such as bauxite, which has already been locked up since late December and is a major source of aluminum ore. already since 2020 they did the same with nickel ore.

Battery manufacturers have already reacted. Indonesia wants to become a major player in the production chain, mainly the electric car industry. The country has the world’s largest reserves of nickel, basic for batteries.

At the moment, the ban on exporting nickel ore is to build factories there to process it. companies like LG Energy, CATL or Hyundai have already set up battery factories in the region.

It is the turn of copper. After nickel and bauxite, Widodo’s intention is to block copper exports, a critical component also for electric cars and solar energy equipment.

Indonesia is the largest exporter of thermal coal and palm oil, as well as the second largest exporter of tin. When it was decided to block the export of these products, their worldwide price grew. In the case of copper, Indonesia has the Grasberg minethe third largest copper mine in the world.

Resisting international pressure. In 2019, the World Trade Organization (WTO) adopted a statement in favor of the European Union on the maximum limits to be applied to certain imports and exports. The Indonesian government appealed defending its position.

Indonesia does not have the capacity to process that much ore. Internally, the country’s industry has expressed doubts about the extent to which the country has the capacity to process all the extra material that remains in the country because it cannot be exported. The Indonesian government wants to attract enough factories to produce it there, but it is feared that this will not be the case and will result in lost material.

To alleviate this situation, from nikkei They claim that the government could allow certain exports under certain conditions.

There is so little lithium that electric car brands are already considering mining or importing it themselves

Another factor that makes the price of materials necessary for the renewable transition more expensive. The rise of the electric car is a devourer of these minerals. And production is centered in a few countries, including Indonesia, which is one of those that has adopted a more forceful role with respect to exports.

The battle to access minerals such as nickel or copper is a real problem for manufacturers. And countries like Indonesia are increasingly aware of the importance of what is hidden under their land.

Image| Unsplash

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Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a freelance writer working on news website. He contributes to Our Blog and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. He loves running, trees and hanging out with her family.

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