June 8 (Reuters) - Tsingshan Holding Group is set to ramp up aluminium production in Indonesia in 2023, consultancy CRU said on Tuesday, as the Chinese stainless steel and nickel group diversifies operations in the country.
Tsingshan made a name for itself in the global nickel market by investing heavily in Indonesia, which banned nickel ore exports from 2020, and is involved in projects there to make battery chemicals and nickel pig iron.
The company currently produces no aluminium but is planning to build a 1 million tonnes per year aluminium smelter with Huafon Group at its industrial park on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. [reut.rs/3irKcGi ]
CRU senior consultant Ying Dai said during a webinar Tsingshan would ramp up capacity to 500,000 tonnes per year in 2023, without providing a time for the start of production.
Tsingshan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Dai said the company could take advantage of Chinese technology in Indonesia and use its power plant for low-cost coal-fired power. She said that a ceiling on smelting capacity in China was another reason Chinese companies are looking abroad to expand.
Aluminium producers in China, the world’s biggest metals consumer, are coming under pressure to use cleaner power sources for the energy-intensive smelting process and reduce emissions.
“We also think hydropower potential in Indonesia will also bring another opportunity for aluminium smelting development domestically,” Dai said.
Indonesia has already attracted companies, including China Hongqiao Group, to refine aluminium raw material alumina in the country thanks to its abundant bauxite reserves.
Following nickel ore, Indonesia plans to ban exports of bauxite, the main ore source of aluminium, from 2023 to boost its downstream metals industry.
Tsingshan has also been in talks to build a $2.8 billion copper smelter with Freeport-McMoRan Inc in Indonesia’s Weda Bay.
Reporting by Fathin Ungku and Mai Nguyen; writing by Tom Daly. Editing by Jane Merriman