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24 Nov 2021

Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP)

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The Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP) was initially built for the purpose of developing nickel pig iron and stainless-steel production, but with the rise of the electric vehicle market, the park’s focus expanded to take advantage of the emergence of nickel as a critical mineral in the renewable energy transition. Construction of the park, in Morowali Regency, Central Sulawesi, began in 2013, and it is now the largest nickel-based industrial area in Indonesia, with 11 smelters. However, this massive development has a significant ecological footprint through submarine wastewater disposal and air pollution from coal-generated power.

Project Impacts

  • Water Pollution and Biodiversity Loss: Pollution and wastewater runoff from the park have impacted water quality, decreasing the numbers of fish and other marine life and forcing fishers to travel further out to sea. Proposed plans for deep-sea tailings disposal raised serious environmental concerns but applications were later withdrawn by the company.
  • Air Pollution: Emissions from the plants powering the park are increasing air pollution and causing respiratory illnesses in surrounding populations.
  • Deforestation: Rates of deforestation rose in the years following the Indonesian Government’s ban on resource exports and the start of construction of the IMIP in 2013.
  • Militarisation: The IMIP is designated a National Strategic Project (NSP), and to protect the investment, the police presence has already increased in the vicinity and an additional military presence is planned.
  • Labour: Workers lack labour protections and face job instability, low wages, and workplace safety hazards.
  • Local Community: Despite the jobs created in the park, most local people remain engaged in agriculture as they do not have the skills or desire to work in industrial projects. A decline in government investment in agricultural projects, coupled with environmental impacts from the IMIP, has caused hardship for farmers.

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