The three companies will make equity investments in the Pomalaa Block High-Pressure Acid Leaching (HPAL) project, which will process ore from Vale Indonesia’s Pomalaa Block mine to produce mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP)


Ford Motor partners with PT Vale Indonesia, Huayou. (Credit: Yunus Yildiz on Unsplash)

Vale Indonesia, together with China’s Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, has signed an agreement with US carmaker Ford Motor for the development of a $4.5bn nickel production in Indonesia.

Under the terms of the agreement, the three companies will make equity investments in the Pomalaa Block High-Pressure Acid Leaching (HPAL) project.

Vale Indonesia will supply the Pomalaa Block HPAL project with ore from its Pomalaa Block mine to produce mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP).

MHP is a lower-cost nickel product used in EV batteries with nickel-rich cathodes.

The HPAL plant, located in the Pomalaa Block, Kolaka, Southwest Sulawesi, Indonesia, is operated by the local mining company Kolaka Nickel Indonesia.

The plant can produce up to 120 kilotons per annum of contained nickel in the form of MHP, subject to regulatory approval.

Ford Model e EV industrialisation vice president Lisa Drake said: “This framework gives Ford direct control to source the nickel we need – in one of the industry’s lowest-cost ways – and allows us to ensure the nickel is mined in line with our company’s sustainability targets, setting the right ESG standards as we scale.

“Working this way puts Ford in a position to help make EVs more accessible for millions and to do it in a way that helps better protect people and the planet.”

Early site preparations have already started at the Pomalaa Block HPAL project, with full construction expected to begin this year and commercial operations in 2026.

The collaboration is anticipated to deliver materials that are crucial for the shift of the automobile industry towards EVs and support Ford’s EV production plan for 2026.

The three companies are expected to sign a separate supply agreement for a precursor cathode active material that is critical to manufacturing lithium-ion batteries.

The three-way agreement follows Vale Indonesia’s ground-breaking at Pomalaa Block last year, which is a National Strategic Project and is expected to generate 12,000 construction jobs.

Vale Indonesia CEO Febriany Eddy said: “This agreement shows it’s not just about what we mine – but how we do it. We embed our environmental, social and governance standards into everything we do, and the result is a unique collaboration with global automaker Ford and leading global mineral processor Huayou to jointly invest in this project.

“This global co-operation is in line with Indonesia’s vision to build a domestic EV ecosystem and makes PT Vale an important contributor toward addressing the world’s decarbonisation challenge, with an investment that will generate local economic benefits and ensure the optimal utilisation of Indonesia’s nickel resources.”