ASIATODAY.ID, JAKARTA – The nickel downstream policy in Indonesia launched by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has received sharp criticism. The reason is, this policy only benefits China and has caused massive ecological damage.
In fact, the current nickel downstream policy is no different from cartel practices which only benefit nickel smelter owners controlled by Chinese investors.
“I tend to agree, this downstream policy shifts the profits from our miners to a cartel of just a few giant companies and they reap huge profits,” said Thomas Lembong, Co-Captain of the National Winning Team for Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates Anies Baswedan-Muhaimin Iskandar at the forum public discussion with CSIS, in Central Jakarta, Wednesday, December 6 2023.
According to Tom Lembong, the ban on the export of nickel ore (raw mineral) forces small mines to sell their products to a handful of business actors who have export and smelter permits. On the other hand, nickel processing is not environmentally friendly.
“Nickel mining and nickel processing are very, very destructive to the environment,” he explained.
Thomas said the amount of land worked would have to be very large to get one ton of nickel. Worse, the soil that has been dredged will become poisonous.
“If you want to process it to make it non-toxic, it will add extraordinary costs and so far that hasn’t been done,” he explained.
Thomas also mentioned nickel smelting using coal power plants. This is considered ironic.
“We want to make batteries for electric cars, but in fact processing nickel increases greenhouse gas emissions which worsens the climate crisis,” he explained.
“This repeats past history, where the downstream policy had a bleak history. The downstreaming of wood into plywood left a bad legacy. Namely, massive deforestation and ultimately its collapse,” he explained.
Likewise, downstream rubber has made entrepreneurs compete to invest and build rubber processing factories. In fact, it exceeds capacity, so it ends up being overwhelmed.
“We were forced to reduce prices for rubber farmers to buy their raw materials. This resulted in the rubber processing factory going bankrupt,” he explained.
According to Tom Lembong, the real source of economic growth is not the downstream policy launched by President Jokowi.
“Let the market provide an evaluation. If we focus more on shifting to sectors that have a greater chance of increasing workers’ income,” he said. (ATN)
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