January 11, 2019 / 11:15 AM / 7 months ago

China's Tsingshan, partners start work on Indonesia battery materials plant

JAKARTA/BEIJING, Jan 11 (Reuters) -

* China’s Tsingshan Group and partners including GEM Co Ltd on Friday announced the start of work on a $700 million battery chemicals project in Indonesia.

* A GEM spokesman said piling work began on Friday, while a joint statement said construction would start “as soon as possible after obtaining relevant approvals”.

* A joint venture agreement on the project, situated in the Morowali Industrial Park on the island of Sulawesi, was signed on Sept. 28, 2018.

* Friday’s statement gave no timeframe for the start of production and analysts have cast doubt on the possibility of a 2019 start-up as earlier guided by Japanese stakeholder Hanwa Co Ltd .

* “This project refines the key raw material for the preparation of ternary power batteries from the laterite nickel ore – battery-grade nickel-cobalt raw materials,” the statement said. Tsingshan is Indonesia’s top nickel producer.

* The plant will produce 50,000 tonnes of nickel hydroxide intermediates and 150,000 tonnes of battery-grade nickel sulphate crystals annually, as well as 20,000 tonnes of cobalt sulphate crystals and 30,000 tonnes of manganese sulphate crystals.

* Battery recycler Brunp, a unit of Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL), is also a partner in the project. (Reporting by Fergus Jensen in JAKARTA and Tom Daly in BEIJING, editing by Louise Heavens)

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