Jakarta – The Environment and Forestry Ministry is preparing a regulation to exclude nickel slag produced by local mineral smelters from the list of hazardous and toxic waste (B3) so that it can be used, such as for the construction of roads.
The ministry's waste management director general Rosa Vivien Ratnawati said that nickel slag did not meet the definition of B3 waste, as it is nonflammable, noncombustible, noninfectious and noncorrosive.
"However, we consider nickel slag to be B3 waste because it has potential cumulative side effects as it is usually produced in a large quantity," she said after a meeting at the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister on Friday last week.
The meeting discussed the utilization of the nickel slag for economic purposes, such as for the construction of roads.
The Industry Ministry estimated that 20 million tons of nickel slag is currently produced every year. More would be produced in the coming years when all nickel smelters currently under construction begin operating.
Indonesia has 11 nickel smelters and is constructing another 25.
Rosa said that Government Regulation No. 101/2014 has regulated the exception of the nickel slag as hazardous waste and that the ministry was preparing to issue a regulation for the exception procedures for nickel slag.
"Smelters must request the exception and their nickel waste must pass the LD50 (lethal dose 50) test, the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) and the subchronic toxicity test first," she told the press.
She said the ministry had initiated evaluations on nickel slag produced by three smelters, namely PT Vale Indonesia Tbk, PT Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP) and PT Aneka Tambang (Antam) Pomalaa, Southeast Sulawesi branch.
Meanwhile, Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said the exception was long overdue, explaining that other countries did not consider nickel waste to be hazardous.
"They make nickel slag into concrete and asphalt, but in Indonesia the process for exception is difficult," he said.
Darmin suggested that the government regulation be revised to exclude nickel slag as B3 waste until proven otherwise by lab tests.
The government had pushed for the construction of mineral smelters as part of the program to develop the country's downstream mining industry. (eyc)