Eramet & China’s Huayou explore EV nickel partnership

FRENCH miner Eramet is exploring a partnership with Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt to produce battery-grade nickel in Indonesia after a similar project with a European partner fell through last month.

It is in talks for an ore supply agreement to a high-pressure acid leach (HPAL) plant run by the Chinese company in the Indonesia Weda Bay Industrial Park, people familiar with the matter said.

The French company is also considering a stake in the Huayou-controlled Huafei plant, which is the world’s largest HPAL facility.

A spokesperson for Eramet declined to comment on the talks. It said in an earlier statement it was continuing to evaluate further investments in Indonesia. Huayou did not immediately respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

The move highlights the difficulty Western companies face when building a supply chain of critical materials that are free from Chinese influence.

Last month, Eramet cancelled plans to build a USD 2.6bn nickel-cobalt refinery with Germany’s BASF in Weda Bay, with the German company citing the growing availability of battery-grade nickel.

That project would have been the only HPAL facility in Indonesia with Western shareholders, potentially making it eligible for generous subsidies under the US Inflation Reduction Act.

Chinese companies have been able to build the plants far quicker and cheaper than their Western counterparts but have also faced concerns over how they manage the tailings with severe contamination risks.

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