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Nickel Industries seeks investors for Indonesia plant, invites Tesla, Panasonic to visit

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Company building plant to supply EV battery makers

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Tesla, Panasonic, Northvolt visit Indonesian operations

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Hopes to decide on customers by 2H 2024

MELBOURNE, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Nickel Industries is inviting electric vehicle and battery makers including Tesla to its Indonesian facilities as it seeks potential investors to the plant, the Australian company's chief executive said on Monday.

The producer of nickel pig iron is expanding into high purity nickel for the EV industry and is building a $2.3 billion plant in Indonesia's Morowali that will supply products such as nickel sulphate, matte and mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP).

Nickel Industries owns a 55% stake in the plant, with China stainless steel maker Tsingshan holding the rest.

Nickel Industries is seeking investors for a stake of as much of 20% in the plant as partner Tsingshan dilutes its holding, CEO Justin Werner said.

"We would be open to an automaker taking a stake," Werner told Reuters, adding that Tesla, Panasonic and Northvolt were among the companies that have visited, or will soon visit, the Indonesia plant.

Indonesia produces more than half of the world's nickel and is expected to account for nearly three-quarters of global supply by the end of the decade, as EV and battery manufacturers increase their foothold in the country.

U.S. carmaker Ford in March took a stake in a $4.5 billion nickel processing plant in Indonesia with PT Vale Indonesia and China's Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt.

Nickel Industries' high pressure acid leach (HPAL) plant is expected to be completed by the end of 2025 and will supply around 70,000-80,000 tonnes of nickel product per year, Werner said, adding that the plant expected to sign up customers by mid 2024.

It will be looking to place some 7,000-8,000 tonnes of MHP, around 10,000 tonnes of class 1 nickel matte and 30,000-40,000 tonnes of either MHP, cathode, or nickel sulphate, depending on market conditions, he added. (Reporting by Melanie Burton; editing by Miral Fahmy)

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