Indonesian nickel smelter resumes productions after deadly riot

Police say operations at the facility in Central Sulawesi have resumed following clashes that left two workers dead.

Production at an Indonesian nickel smelter has resumed following deadly clashes in which two workers were killed [File: Yusuf Ahmad/Reuters]

Production at an Indonesian nickel smelter owned by China’s Jiangsu Delong Nickel Industry has resumed, police said, after operations were suspended due to a protest and rioting at the weekend in which two workers were killed.

An Indonesian and a Chinese worker died, while vehicles and dormitories were torched during the clashes at the PT Gunbuster Nickel Industry (GNI) smelter, a unit of Jiangsu Delong, which involved protesters, workers and security guards.

“The situation at GNI in North Morowali is relatively conducive and the company today has restarted operation,” Central Sulawesi police spokesperson Didik Supranoto said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Hundreds of employees have arrived at the site,” he added, sharing a video showing workers wearing grey uniforms and yellow helmets arriving on motorcycles while police officers guarded the entrance into the facility.

GNI could not be reached for comment. In a statement on Monday, it said it is working with police to investigate the cause of the clashes.

Indonesia’s police chief on Monday said more than 500 police and military personnel have been deployed to secure the nickel smelting facility, and more would reinforce.

GNI launched the smelter, which has an annual output capacity of 1.8 million tonnes, in late 2021. An estimated $2.7bn was invested to build the smelter.

There are about 11,000 Indonesian workers at GNI’s plant and 1,300 foreign personnel, according to Indonesian police.

China’s embassy in Indonesia condemned the violence.

“We, as the Indonesian Government did, condemn this vile incident, during which the violent breaking into the industrial park caused casualties of Chinese and Indonesian staff and damage of facilities in the park,” the embassy said in a statement.

Source: Reuters