BUSINESS

[Power Korea] MBG Group jumps into nickel development in Indonesia

By Shin Ji-hye
  • Published : Sept 10, 2017 - 15:54
  • Updated : Sept 10, 2017 - 15:55
Amid growing demand for electric vehicles globally, Korean bio firm MBG Group has jumped into the race to explore nickel, a key chemical element of EV batteries, in Indonesia which is rich in the resource.

MBG Group was established in 2009 as a startup within the nation’s top-notch science college, Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology.

It has since developed five medical devices that received first grade from the US Food and Drug Administration alongside 20 general medicine and medical supplies.

The local bio firm recently began a major push into the resource development of nickel in Indonesia in partnership with the local government and mine owners.

MBG Group said it plans to break ground for its refining factory for nickel sulfate in Indonesia in November.

The factory is slated to produce nickel sulfate for EV batteries as early as late next year.

The company bought a 3.1 million-square-meter factory site and a 2.3 million-square-meter nickel mine in Indonesia. It also signed a memorandum of understanding with local 23 mine owners to supply 155,000 hectares of nickel meteorite.

MBG Group said it will be capable of producing around 30,000 tons of nickel sulfate initially and plans to supply the chemical to Korean leading battery makers and other global EV battery makers. 

“We are capable of supplying more than 15,000 tons of nickel sulfate to Korean battery companies around 2020 when demand for EV is expected to soar. The remains can be supplied to other foreign firms,” said Lim Dong-pyo, chief executive of MBG Group. 

Lim Dong-pyo, chief executive of MBG Group (MBG Group)
When EVs become a common sight, the company’s nickels, which cost $18,000 per tons, can generate revenues of more than 5 trillion won, Lim predicted.

According to the International Energy Agency, the world will need 600 million electric vehicles by 2040 in order to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, the target set by the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change.

MBG said it is also in talks with China’s iron ore and nickel equipment companies to gain nickel refining knowhow.

Based on the solid relationship with the Indonesian government through the nickel development business, MBG Group pushed into biofloc technology, a fish farming technology using microorganism, in the nation.

The firm recently received 29 million square meters of land from the government for free for shrimp farming in Indonesia, where shrimp farming is optimized for its soil and weather.

The shrimp farm, which broke ground in August, is expected to become the world’s second largest shrimp farm, with 4 billion won in revenue per 100,000 square meters, according to MBG Group.

On the back of diverse projects carried out in Indonesia, MBG also plans to start renewable energy project in Indonesia around October, with the pilot project of 250 tons in the Lombok area.

Lim’s passion for working with Indonesia looks to continue with more projects in the future.

MBG employees pose at its nickel refining plant site in Indonesia on Aug. 25. (MBG Group)
The firm plans to develop sulfur hot springs on Labengki Island. The unexplored island with a pristine natural environment is known to have more hot springs than Japan and around 500,000 Europeans visit the island to enjoy the spring annually, the firm said.

If direct flights are opened via Garuda Indonesia airlines, more visitors can be drawn to the Labengki Island and its natural sulfur hot springs, the firm predicted.

MBG is originally a company specialized in bio science. When Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus broke out in 2013, the firm made its name known by launching eco-friendly sterilized antiseptic solution Medi HOCL.

After seeing the medicines boasting sterilizing power gain traction, the company predicted demand for hydrogen water generator having sterilizing power will also rise in the future. 

It then developed portable hydrogen water generator, MediNizer, and portable alkali hydrogen water device, Medi Hydro, for the first time in the world. Hydrogen water is known to emit bad active oxygen causing diverse diseases and aging.

Also among Lim’s innovative push is the drone business. MBG Group recently set up its new subsidiary MBG KEVA to foster its drone development. Viewing the the drone industry will generate around 100,000 jobs and $82 billion market, the firm convened a meeting inviting drone specialists, pilots and engineers to map out a long term plan for the drone industry including research and development on industrial, defense and agricultural drones.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)