Top China Nickel Producer Joins BHP in Prepping for EV Boom (Bloomberg News – January 18, 2018)

China’s top nickel supplier aims to boost output of a material used in car batteries by 40 percent this year, joining the ranks of global producers ramping up operations to meet demand from electric vehicles.

Jinchuan Group Co. expects to raise production of nickel sulphate to 70,000 metric tons from 50,000 tons in 2017, Simon Bao, vice general manager of its marketing unit, said in an interview in Shanghai. The country is already the world’s largest automotive market and sales of new-energy vehicles may hit 1 million in 2018 after topping 700,000 last year, according to manufacturers.

“While physical demand hasn’t picked up too significantly yet, it may surge in about two years,” Bao said Tuesday. The company is able to raise sulphate production without any technical barriers, he said, adding that nickel cathode output will be kept at 135,000 tons this year. Cathode is used in stainless steel.

The world’s biggest miners are stepping up efforts to meet demand for battery materials. BHP Billiton Ltd. has begun work to build on a nickel sulphate plant in Western Australia and is considering further expansions.

Rio Tinto Group is developing a lithium project in Serbia, while Glencore Plc plans to double production of cobalt in the next two years.

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