Indonesian mining firm Aneka Tambang (Antam) has secured a US$900mn loan commitment from a consortium of international banks for the construction of a ferronickel plant in Halmahera.

Eko Endriawan, head of investor relations at the firm, confirms to GTR that the consortium consists of Bank Mandiri, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, SMBC, Indonesia’s Bank Rakyat and Standard Chartered.

However, according to a local newspaper report confirmed by Antam, the firm would prefer to use financing from ECAs to achieve cheaper pricing arrangements. Six ECAs from Finland, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Japan and South Korea are interested in providing support for US$520mn to US$790mn, in which case Antam would use the consortium’s commitment as a backup plan in case the European financial crisis should affect the ECAs’ financing capabilities.

The firm expects to fund 35% of the US$1.5bn cost with its own assets, with the remaining 65% coming from external financing.

Upon completion in 2014, the ferronickel smelter will have a production capacity of 27,000 tonnes per year of nickel, a mineral used to produce stainless steel. Potential buyers could include South Korea’s Posco, Japan’s Nisshin Steel and India’s ArcelorMittal.