Indonesia transforms traditional Indigenous land into a nickel industrial zone

Within Indonesia’s biodiverse forests lies a critical metal crucial for reducing reliance on fossil fuels: nickel.

Nickel plays a pivotal role in leading battery technologies for electric vehicles, extending their range on a single charge.

As the world’s top nickel producer, Indonesia is actively fostering an electric vehicle battery industry, aiming to drive economic growth.

The future trajectory of the nickel sector emerges as a central theme in the upcoming presidential election. However, concerns regarding its environmental and social ramifications have recently come under scrutiny.

In Southeast Sulawesi, tensions have escalated over the establishment of a nickel industrial complex on ancestral lands belonging to the Indigenous Mopute community.

Forced displacement from this forested area, which holds ancestral burial grounds, has triggered accusations of human rights violations and alleged police coercion. Authorities have remained silent on these allegations.

Experts caution that the surge in nickel projects is stretching governmental oversight capacities, highlighting the need for robust safeguards. Nonetheless, the situation isn’t binary.

While electric vehicles are pivotal for transitioning to sustainable energy, rights organizations emphasize the sector’s obligation to avoid perpetuating the harmful practices of fossil fuel extraction industries.

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