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Like Musk, nickel-rich Indonesia has high electric vehicle ambitions



Armed with the world’s largest reserves of nickel and a ban on the export of nickel ore, Indonesia is making itself indispensable for the electric vehicle industry, which uses the metal extensively.

In just three years, Indonesia has signed more than a dozen deals worth more than $15 billion for battery and electric vehicle production in the country with manufacturers including Hyundai Motor 005380.KS, LG Group 003550.KS and Foxconn 2317.T.

Next up is the mammoth Tesla Inc TSLA.O, the world’s most valuable automaker. President Joko Widodo has pulled out all the stops to convince CEO Elon Musk to manufacture electric vehicles or batteries in the sprawling Southeast Asian archipelago.

“I’m very confident this industry will grow quickly, will grow very fast,” the president, popularly known as Jokowi, said in an interview last week.


Indonesia has a total of 21 million tonnes in proven reserves with nickel content, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That is nearly a quarter of the world’s reserves.

The country mined 1.4 million tonnes of nickel in January-November last year, according to the International Nickel Study Group. That’s far ahead of the second-biggest producer, the Philippines, which mined 290,000 tonnes in the same period, and more than double Indonesia’s output of 606,000 tonnes in 2018.

Jokowi banned exports of nickel ore in 2020, but allowed export of higher value nickel products – forcing companies to process and manufacture onshore.

Indonesia’s exports of processed nickel then swelled to more than $30 billion in 2022 from about $1 billion in 2015.

Indonesia is expected to account for half of the global production increase in nickel between 2021 and 2025, according to the International Energy Agency, as demand for electric vehicles surges. Each vehicle uses up to 40 kg of nickel.


“The Indonesian government is building a whole value chain for servicing electric vehicle factories,” said Victor Chin, principal consultant at metal consultancy firm CRU.

“So it only makes sense for Tesla to consider Indonesia, both for a gigafactory and also for car manufacturing,” he said.

Musk’s goal is to sell 20 million electric vehicles in 2030, more than a 15-fold increase over the 1.3 million vehicles Tesla sold in 2022. For that, it would need to build seven or eight more “gigafactories” – facilities that produce electric car batteries on a large scale – at an average of one every 12 months or so.Read full story

Indonesia has similarly ambitious goals – Jokowi said in the interview nickel exports can grow by 200 times from pre-export ban levels of around $1 billion if the country successfully manages to build the electric vehicle ecosystem. Brazilian mining company Vale VALE3.SA has predicted a 44% jump in nickel demand by 2030 from 2022 levels due to high demand for batteries meant for electric vehicles.

Jokowi did not give a timeline for the exports growth but said Indonesia was aiming to establish an integrated supply chain for electric vehicle batteries by 2027.


In other moves, Indonesia will also ban exports of copper ore and bauxite in June, both of which are used in electric vehicle production.


The nickel export ban has been challenged at the World Trade Organisation by the European Union. The WTO ruled in the EU’s favour, but Indonesia has filed an appeal.

But Indonesia’s success has already prompted other countries to emulate its steps, with the Philippines planning to tax exports of nickel ore to encourage miners to invest in processing.

The development of the industry in Indonesia is a pet project for Jokowi. He has taken it upon himself to convince Musk to invest in Indonesia, holding talks with the Tesla chief twice.


Last week, Jokowi said he has even offered Tesla a nickel mining concession and tax breaks to invest in the country, and that he was confident a deal would be finalised.

While Tesla is looking for additional manufacturing hubs, it has not commented on any firm plans in Indonesia. South Korea, Canada and Mexico have also been trying to entice the carmaker.

The company has signed nickel sourcing contracts worth about $5 billion from companies in Indonesia, a government official has said.

One area of concern for potential investors is the nickel mining industry’s environmental impact and Indonesia’s use of coal for power generation.

The process of making nickel suitable for EV batteries has a high carbon footprint and produces waste that environmentalists fear could be dumped in the ocean.


Still, global automakers are investing or sourcing from Indonesia due to limited alternatives and booming demand, analysts say.

“There is not enough nickel capacity expansion outside Indonesia. Indonesian nickel production has grown its share from less than 20% to nearly 50% in last four years,” said ANZ’s Soni Kumari.

Even buyers from the developed markets who are more conscious of sustainability credentials will be forced to buy from Indonesia, Kumari said.

“As battery-grade nickel demand continues to grow, battery and auto companies cannot just ignore (criticism) that ‘Indonesian nickel is not green enough’ when most of the future growth is going to come from Indonesia,” she said.



Australian lethal mushroom mystery survivor leaves hospital




Australian lethal mushroom mystery survivor leaves hospital

A survivor of a lethal mushroom poisoning that has gripped Australia has been released from hospital, his family say.

Ian Wilkinson had been left in a critical condition after eating a beef Wellington cooked by Erin Patterson.

Three people, including Mr Wilkinson’s wife, died after the meal, which police believe contained death cap mushrooms, which are lethal if ingested.

Ms Patterson, who is not facing charges, has said it was an accident.


Mr Wilkinson left hospital on Friday after almost two months of treatment, according to his family.

“This milestone marks a moment of immense relief and gratitude for Ian and the entire Wilkinson family,” they said in a statement.

It is not yet clear if Mr Wilkinson, a Baptist church pastor, has already spoken to police in hospital or whether he can now shed new light on the case.

The fatal lunch was held in Ms Patterson’s home in the small town of Leongatha, Victoria on 29 July.

Ms Patterson had invited her former in-laws Gail and Don Patterson, along with Gail’s sister Heather Wilkinson and Heather’s husband Ian. Ms Patterson’s estranged husband could not attend at the last minute.


Hours after the meal, all four guests fell ill with what they initially thought was severe food poisoning.

Within days, Heather, 66, Gail, 70, and Don, 70, had died, while Ian, 68, was hospitalised in a critical condition.

Suspicion fell on Ms Patterson because she appeared to remain in good health despite her four guests falling gravely ill.

“I am now devastated to think that these mushrooms may have contributed to the illness suffered by my loved ones,” the 48-year-old said last month.
“I really want to repeat that I had absolutely no reason to hurt these people, whom I loved.”

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OpenAI’s ChatGPT will ‘see, hear and speak’ in major update




OpenAI's ChatGPT will 'see, hear and speak' in major update

OpenAI’s ChatGPT is getting a major update that will enable the viral chatbot to have voice conversations with users and interact using images, moving it closer to popular artificial intelligence (AI) assistants like Apple’s Siri.

The voice feature “opens doors to many creative and accessibility-focused applications”, OpenAI said in a blog post on Monday.

Similar AI services like Siri, Google (GOOGL.O) voice assistant and’s (AMZN.O) Alexa are integrated with the devices they run on and are often used to set alarms and reminders, and deliver information off the internet.

Since its debut last year, ChatGPT has been adopted by companies for a wide range of tasks from summarizing documents to writing computer code, setting off a race amongst Big Tech companies to launch their own offerings based on generative AI.


ChatGPT’s new voice feature can also narrate bedtime stories, settle debates at the dinner table, and speak out loud text input from users.

The technology behind it is being used by Spotify (SPOT.N) for the platform’s podcasters to translate their content in different languages, OpenAI said.

With images support, users can take pictures of things around them and ask the chatbot to “troubleshoot why your grill won’t start, explore the contents of your fridge to plan a meal, or analyze a complex graph for work-related data”.

Alphabet’s Google Lens is currently the popular choice to gain information on images.

The new ChatGPT features will be released for subscribers of its Plus and Enterprise plans over the next two weeks.


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SEC collects Wall Street’s private messages as WhatsApp probe escalates




SEC collects Wall Street's private messages as WhatsApp probe escalates

The U.S. securities regulator has collected thousands of staff messages from more than a dozen major investment companies, escalating its probe into Wall Street’s use of private messaging apps, said four people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Previously, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had asked the companies to internally review the messages in its investigation of Wall Street’s use of WhatsApp, Signal and other unapproved messaging apps to discuss work.

The two-year crackdown into potential breaches of record-keeping rules initially targeted broker dealers, netting regulators over $2 billion in fines.

While Reuters and other media have reported that the SEC’s “off-channel” communication probe has expanded to investment advisers, its move to review thousands of their staff messages has not previously been reported. It marks an escalation of the investigation and raises the stakes for the companies and the executives concerned by exposing their conduct to SEC scrutiny.


“It increases risk,” one source said. “The more information you give the SEC, the more you fuel the beast.”

In the latest phase of the probe of more than a dozen investment advisers, the SEC has in recent months asked for messages on personal devices or applications during the first half of 2021 that discuss business, the sources said. It has targeted a selection of employees, in some cases as many as a dozen, including senior executives.

The firms include Carlyle Group (CG.O), Apollo Global Management (APO.N), KKR & Co (KKR.N), TPG (TPG.O), and Blackstone (BX.N), according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter, as well as some hedge funds, including Citadel, said a different person with direct knowledge.

The executives gave their personal phones and other devices to their employers or lawyers to be copied, and messages discussing business have been handed to the SEC, three people said.

That is in contrast to the broker-dealer probes. In those cases, the SEC asked companies to review staff messages and report to the agency how many discussed work. SEC staff reviewed only a sample of messages themselves, according to three sources with knowledge of the previous investigations.


The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because SEC investigations are confidential.

At least 16 firms including Carlyle, Apollo, KKR, TPG, and Blackstone, have disclosed that the SEC is probing their communications. The firms did not provide further details and did not comment for this story. A spokesperson for Citadel declined to comment.

Government investigations are not evidence of wrongdoing and do not necessarily lead to charges.

An SEC spokesperson declined to comment. Chair Gary Gensler has defended the communications scrutiny, saying record-keeping rules are critical in helping the SEC guard against wrongdoing.

“Now that they have all that data – it is very possible that the SEC will find compliance failures in there somewhere that have nothing to do with the off-channel communications record-keeping issues,” said Jaclyn Grodin, a lawyer at Goulston & Storrs who is not involved in the investigation.


Private fund fees and expenses, conflicts of interest and preferential treatment of investors are issues the SEC is increasingly focusing on, she noted.

The problem of keeping tabs on staff communications has dogged Wall Street compliance departments for years. Because companies do not surveil personal messaging channels, using them to discuss business puts SEC-regulated employers in breach of requirements to record all business communications.

The SEC began to home in on Wall Street’s record-keeping problem when JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) failed to provide documents from at least 2018 pertaining to an unrelated probe, according to a 2021 settlement in which the bank agreed to pay the SEC $125 million to resolve charges over record-keeping lapses.

Suspecting that off-channel chat about deals, trades and other business was rife on Wall Street, the SEC in 2021 opened an inquiry into other broker-dealers’ communications, said two sources. The misconduct proved so pervasive that the agency has been “shooting fish in a barrel,” one said.

The probe is shaping up to be Gensler’s signature Wall Street enforcement initiative, netting multiple big names including Wells Fargo (WFC.N), Bank of America (BAC.N), Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Morgan Stanley .


It has generated millions in fees for attorneys, with firms hiring dozens of lawyers to represent both the company and executives worried about their exposure, according to several sources.

The SEC began approaching investment advisers in October 2022, Reuters previously reported. As with broker-dealers, the SEC initially sought details on investment advisers’ record-keeping policies. It then identified a group of executives and asked the firms to search their devices and report back on what they found.

But the firms resisted, arguing their record-keeping requirements are narrower than broker-dealers’.

In a January letter led by the Managed Funds Association, the industry said the SEC’s request was “invasive” and raised privacy issues. Bloomberg previously reported the letter.

The SEC later demanded that the investment advisers hand over the messages, the sources said.


The agency is ignoring important differences in investment advisers’ recordkeeping requirements, said Jennifer Han, the MFA’s executive vice president and chief counsel.

“Unilaterally expanding the rules by enforcement actions sidesteps due process and creates a dangerous precedent,” she said in a statement.

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