This picture taken on March 30, 2019 shows a worker manning a furnace during the nickel smelting process at Indonesian mining company PT Vale's smelting plant in Soroako, South Sulawesi. (PHOTO / AFP)
JAKARTA – A senior Indonesian cabinet minister on Tuesday warned companies operating in a nickel-rich region to comply with the country's environmental regulations or risk getting their operating licenses revoked.
Indonesia aims to use its vast nickel reserves to become a regional manufacturing hub for electric vehicle batteries, signing more than a dozen deals worth $15 billion with global manufacturers including Hyundai, LG and Foxconn in just three years.
You have to comply with regulations set up by the Indonesian government. If you can't, I will shut down your industry within two months.
Luhut Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs
But environmentalists have cautioned against realizing those ambitions through rapacious mining and mineral processing, which they say will irreversibly damage the environment, as evidenced in other parts of the resource-rich country.
"You have to comply with regulations set up by the Indonesian government. If you can't, I will shut down your industry within two months," said Luhut Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs.
"Maybe it would reduce some of our revenue, but then (we) don't want to compensate for that with a bad environment," he told an economic forum in Jakarta.
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Luhut referenced the country's largest nickel processing complex, the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP) in Central Sulawesi province, saying a government team has been sent to investigate environmental and worker complaints raised there last month.
He also warned the government could take action against any non-compliant companies.