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

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

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WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

WhatsApp has unveiled a groundbreaking feature that revolutionizes text messaging by allowing users to customize their messages like never before.

Prior to this update, users were limited to basic text modifications such as bold and italic; however, the new feature introduces a plethora of formatting options, including numbers, bullets, block quotes, and text highlighting.

The process is simple and intuitive, requiring users to incorporate specific symbols to achieve their desired text format. For monospacing text, users can enclose their message with three backticks on both sides. Adding a quote is as easy as placing an angle bracket and a space before the text.

To strike through a message, users need to flank their text with tilde symbols, while bolding requires asterisks on both sides. One of the standout additions is the ability to create bulleted lists effortlessly. Users can precede each word or sentence with an asterisk or hyphen and a space to generate a neatly organized list.

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Moreover, numbering and spacing at the beginning of text with “1.” facilitates the creation of itemized lists, enhancing the overall clarity and structure of messages.

Inline code can now be seamlessly integrated into messages by enclosing the text with backtick symbols at the start and end. This provides users with a practical way to share code snippets or emphasize specific phrases within their conversations.

The accompanying image showcases the versatility of this new feature, illustrating the various formatting options available to users. WhatsApp users across iOS, Android, and web devices can now leverage this advanced text formatting feature to elevate their communication experience.

The update reflects WhatsApp’s commitment to continually enhance user experience and foster more expressive and organized conversations. Whether you’re conveying information, emphasizing key points, or sharing code snippets, the new formatting options provide a dynamic and engaging communication platform for users worldwide. 

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Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

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Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

 Facebook owner Meta will set up a team to tackle disinformation and the abuse of generative artificial intelligence in the run-up to European Parliament elections in June amid concerns about election interference and misleading AI-generated content.

The rapid growth of generative AI, which can create text, images and video in seconds in response to prompts, has triggered fears that the new technology could be used to disrupt major elections, across the world this year. 

European Parliament elections will take place June 6-9. Its 720 lawmakers, together with EU governments, pass new EU policies and laws.

“As the election approaches, we’ll activate an Elections Operations Center to identify potential threats and put mitigations in place in real time,” Marco Pancini, Meta’s head of EU affairs, said in a blogpost.

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He said experts from the company’s intelligence, data science, engineering, research, operations, content policy and legal teams will focus on combating misinformation, tackling influence operations and counter the risks related to the abuse of generative AI.

Meta, which currently works with 26 independent fact-checking organisations across the European Union covering 22 languages, will add three new partners in Bulgaria, France, and Slovakia, Pancini said.

Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI and 17 other tech companies earlier this month agreed to work together to prevent deceptive artificial-intelligence content from interfering with elections across the globe this year.

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‘X’ faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

‘X’ faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

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'X' faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

The popular microblogging site ‘X,’ formerly known as Twitter, has been inaccessible across Pakistan for over a week. 

Despite a brief interval when the site was accessible, users are now reporting a persistent outage, even when using Virtual Private Network (VPN) services.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the government agency responsible for overseeing telecommunications, hasn’t released any official statement regarding the suspension of the service.

This lack of transparency has only intensified the frustration among users who heavily rely on ‘X’ for information and news updates. Users who initially turned to VPNs as a workaround have also hit a roadblock, as the microblogging site remains inaccessible. 

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The situation has raised concerns about the government’s stance on digital freedom and freedom of speech. The outage has not gone unnoticed by the public, with many expressing their discontent on various platforms. 

Criticism has been directed towards the government and the IT minister for what is perceived as an attack on freedom of speech and a hindrance to the revenue generated by the country’s thriving IT professionals.

Earlier, the Sindh High Court issued a directive to restore access to ‘X’ across Pakistan, recognising the site’s significance for information dissemination. However, despite court’s order, there has been no implementation, leaving users and advocates of digital freedom in a state of dismay.

The suspension of ‘X’ has broader implications, impacting not only the general public but also businesses and professionals who rely on the platform for communication, networking, and staying informed about the latest developments. The longer the outage persists, the more severe the consequences may be for the nation’s digital landscape.

As the public awaits an official statement from the PTA and the government, concerns about the potential ramifications of such a prolonged suspension continue to grow.

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