Vale Indonesia delays smelter rebuild

PT Vale Indonesia has postponed to next year a US$90 million upgrade of its Sorowako nickel smelter in South Sulawesi due to COVID-19 related logistical issues.
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Sorowako has been in operation for over 40 years

The Sorowako upgrade, which has been planned since 2017 and was due to take five months, will now proceed in May 2021, Vale Indonesia finance director Bernardus Irmanto told a virtual shareholders' meeting.

A stabilisation of the market next year will enable the company to make regulatory and investment progress on that expansion and on two new smelter projects on Sulawesi island, added Irmanto.

The company is reportedly in talks with Chinese investors over the development of the ferronickel Bahodopi smelter, and with Japan's Sumitomo Metal over the High Pressure Acid Leaching (HPAL) Pomalaa smelter.

PT Vale Indonesia will make final investment decisions in 2021 for these two new projects, which are currently still at the feasibility study stage, said Irmanto.

Vale Indonesia operates the world's largest integrated laterite nickel mining and processing operation in Sorowako, located around 600 kilometers north of Makassar City, the provincial capital.