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With increasing electrification the need for batteries is growing, especially for electric vehicles (EVs). According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) demand for nickel just for use in EVs is projected to grow up to 20-fold by 2040.

According to Statista the global demand for nickel to be used in EV batteries only amounted to 60,000 metric tons in 2018, but this number is expected to increase over tenfold by 2025 to around 665,000 tons worldwide. (Note that use in batteries is still only one of the segments of nickel use.)

Although nickel mining is well-established, the forecasts for future requirements are escalating, and on this page I will look at one or two of the current issues with nickel mining.

ESG issues in Indonesia.

In 2022 almost half of global nickel production was in Indonesia, and the 20% increase compared to 2021 was almost all in Indonesia.

The Sulawesi coastline, in the south-east of the country, has borne the brunt of environmental destruction from the nickel mines. Contaminated soil runs off the hills when it rains, and has turned the coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean a deep red colour.

This article describes how some locals have taken matters into their own hands, and are now fighting back to try to stop more land from being cleared on Wawonii island.

In 2022 dozens of non-governmental organizations sent an open letter to Elon Musk, urging him not to invest in Indonesia due to environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns.

In March 2023 Indonesian President Joko Widodo pledged to improve monitoring of environmental standards for nickel mining.

Wawonii islanders watch nickel mining operation