London — Commodity traders expect nickel, the silvery-white metal used to make stainless steel, to be a winner from the electric-vehicle revolution — it is a key component of batteries. But a Chinese metals giant with a knack of upending markets is threatening to spoil the party. Tsingshan Holding Group announced last month it is building an Indonesian plant to produce nickel-cobalt salts for the battery market. Transforming the Southeast Asian nation’s low-grade deposits into “class 1” metal — the equivalent of turning cheap table wine into a prized vintage — would disrupt the bullish narrative that has helped shield nickel from a broader selloff in metal markets this year. Despite the challenges — adapting technology previously considered uneconomic — analysts are already moderating their price projections, mindful of Tsingshan’s record as a nickel market disrupter. “The general fear is that if they can make it work, the nickel price won’t really need to go much higher,’ said Coli...

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