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ANTAM’s nickel operating segment is comprised of ferronickel and nickel ore sales, contributing 30% of the Company’s net sales in 2018. Ferronickel production originated from the Company’s Southeast Sulawesi Nickel Mining Business Unit. In 2018, production of nickel ore originated from the nickel mine in Pomalaa, Southeast Sulawesi which was operated by the Southeast Sulawesi Nickel Mining Business Unit, Pakal, North Maluku which was operated by the North Maluku Nickel Mining Business Unit, and Gag Island, West Papua nickel mine, operated by ANTAM’s sub-subsidiary, PT Gag Nikel. While the ferronickel produced by ANTAM has high or low carbon content, depending on the consumer demand.
Nickel ore is one of ANTAM’s important products. ANTAM produces and exports high grade nickel ore with a minimum 1.8% nickel content and a maximum 25% iron content (saprolite) and low grade nickel ore with a 1.2% minimum nickel content (limonite) and minimum 25% iron content.
ANTAM’s nickel ore mines are at Pomalaa, Tanjung Buli and Gag Island. Pomalaa, Southeast Sulawesi, is ANTAM’s oldest nickel mine and is nearly depleted. Tanjung Buli nickel mine is located in North Maluku. Gag Island Mine is operated by ANTAM's subsidiary, PT Gag Nikel in West Papua.
ANTAM conducts open pit mining method with a selective mining to produce high grade and low grade nickel ore. Nickel ore is used for ore feed for Pomalaa ferronickel plant as well as being sold to domestic market. ANTAM sun dries its mined nickel ore before being screened to be crushed into desired size. Ore is transported using belt conveyor to the stockpile area before the end of being used in ferronickel processing or transported to domestic and export customers.
One of ANTAM’s core strategies is to move downstream to produce higher added value processed products. The processed product currently produced by ANTAM in its nickel business line is ferronickel, which contains about 80% iron and 20% nickel. ANTAM’s ferronickel, which is differentiated as containing high or low carbon levels, is sold in the form of shots (pellets) to stainless steel producers mainly in Asia. About more than 60% of nickel is consumed for the production of stainless steel, while the rest is used for various industrial purposes such as batteries, electronics, aerospace applications and land based gas turbines.
ANTAM’s FeNi III Smelter Plant at Pomalaa
Ferronickel Production Process
To produce ferronickel, saprolite nickel ore – which contain minimum 1.8% nickel and maximum 25% iron - were first treated to become calcine through a process that crushes, dries, heats and adds certain consumables to reduce acidity, using various machines. The treated nickel ore are then fed into ANTAM’s smelters at a ratio of about 70-80 tonnes of nickel ore – depending on the grade of the nickel ore - for every tonne of nickel contained in ferronickel. This heat base phyrometallurgical technology is extremely energy intensive and requires an assured power source.
There are three ferronickel plants owned by ANTAM: the FeNi II, FeNi III and FeNi IV. The total capacity of the three plants is 27,000 TNi using nickel ore with 1.8%Ni up content as feed. Nevertheless, for reserves conservation, the Company usually uses ore feed with content range between 1.8% and 2.0%.
ANTAM’s 102 MW power plant at Pomalaa
Other products manufactured by ANTAM