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Nickel Industries attracts strong interest for its Indonesian supply

9th April 2024

By: Reuters

  

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MELBOURNE - More than 25 global auto and battery makers have expressed interest in buying nickel from Australia-listed producer Nickel Industries' new Indonesian plant, CEO Justin Werner said on Tuesday, in the latest boost to Indonesia's nickel dominance.

The company is offering 70 000 to 80 000 metric tons a year from its new high pressure acid leach (HPAL) plant in Sulawesi that is due to be finished in the second half of 2025.

"We have had very good interest," Werner told Reuters. "We are not in a rush to make a decision."

Indonesia has emerged as a supply powerhouse on the back of low costs, producing more than half of the world's nickel, and is expected to account for nearly three-quarters of global supply by the end of the decade.

Nickel Industries' HPAL plant will produce nickel in the form of cathode, as well as mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP) and nickel sulphate which are used to make batteries for electric vehicles.

The company is also looking for investors for a stake of as much as 25% in the plant as its Chinese partner Tsingshan, which is building the plant, is prepared to sell part of its 45% holding.

Oversupply knocked nickel prices down by 45% last year, pressuring high cost producers, including top global miner BHP and others in Australia, who have called for a "green premium" for low carbon nickel.

The London Metal Exchange (LME) classifies 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per tonne of nickel as the threshold for low carbon nickel, and Nickel Industries' HPAL plant will produce a tonne of nickel for about eight tonnes of CO2.

"We'd love a green premium and we are more than confident that we would qualify," Werner said, adding however that automakers and battery makers don't want to pay a green premium.

"They want it at a discount," he said.

Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest said last month the LME should classify its contracts into clean and dirty to give customers more choice. His company Wyloo will next month shut nickel mines that it paid $504-million for last year.

Edited by Reuters

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