Carbon footprint of nickel sulphate transport may start to worry OEMs – report

Arctic Sea ship Norilskiy Nickel on the river Elbe with destination port of Hamburg. (Reference image by Buonasera, Wikimedia Commons).

Market analyst Roskill issued a report where its experts say that they expect concerns over carbon emissions from the transport of nickel sulphate feedstocks such as mixed hydroxide product (MHP) to grow over the coming years.

According to Roskill, increased worry from OEMs over the carbon footprint of transporting these materials is going to be the result of the rising supply of MHP aimed at responding to the demand for battery metal commodities.

Emissions from shipping can constitute a significant percentage of a commodity’s total CO2 emissions

“Given the expected increase in production of nickel sulphate products, spurred on by Li-ion battery demand, scrutiny of this supply chain is inevitable, as downstream OEMs look to exert more control and demand greater transparency of potential ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) issues within their supply chains,” the document reads.

The report explains that emissions from shipping can constitute a significant percentage of a commodity’s total CO2 emissions. This is due to the nature of shipping, transporting large volumes of material over significant distances worldwide and the less stringent nature of regulation over engine fuel use.

Within the nickel sulphate feedstock supply chains, Roskill’s analyses have determined that MHP contributes the greatest quantity of CO2 emissions, approximately 16,000t in 2020. 

“The reasons for this are simple: MHP constitutes approximately a quarter of total feedstock demand (on a contained nickel in NiS feedstock basis) for nickel sulphate refining and additionally, has a moisture content significantly higher than other feedstocks, increasing the volume of material required to be shipped and therefore, carbon emissions,” the report states.

Given that Roskill forecasts the supply of MHP to increase over the next decade, with several high-pressure acid leach projects in Indonesia planned to come online, original equipment manufacturers are also expected to be paying more attention to the environmental implications of moving the products across the world. 

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