By Michael Elkins
American automaker, Ford (NYSE:F) announced alongside PT Vale Indonesia (OTC:PTNDY) and China’s Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt (SS:603799) on Thursday that the companies have decided to partner in a $4.5 billion nickel processing plant in Indonesia.
The proposed high-pressure acid leaching (HPAL) plant will be located in Pomalaa in Southeast Sulawesi, where Vale operates a nickel mine. Vale and Huayou began construction of the plant in November and commercial operation is expected to start in 2026.
Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest nickel reserves, has been trying to develop downstream industries for the metal, ultimately aiming to produce batteries and electric vehicles.
Febriany Eddy, chief executive of Vale Indonesia, said the deal is unique in bringing the U.S. automaker into an upstream nickel business. She said that Vale has a 30% stake in the project, with the remainder being controlled by Ford and Huayou.
The companies did not say how much Ford will invest in the plant, which is expected to produce 120,000 tons per year of mixed hydroxide precipitate, a material extracted from nickel ore for use in EV batteries.
“Ford can help ensure that the nickel that we use in electric vehicle batteries is mined, produced within the same ESG standards as part of our business around the world,” Christopher Smith, Ford’s chief government affairs officer, said at the signing ceremony.
Shares of F are up 0.66% in pre-market trading on Thursday.