Startup battery-grade nickel sulphate company Thakadu aims to capture a fifth of the world’s supply of the chemical, placing SA in an important position for such a strategic mineral. Thakadu is nearing the completion of a R275m plant in Lonmin’s base metal refinery where crude nickel sulphate extracted from a platinum group metal concentrate will be pumped directly into the purification process, said Ruli Diseko, CEO and founder of the four-year-old company. With a plant capacity of 31,200 tonnes a year, Thakadu envisions generating just 25,000 tonnes a year of class-one, battery-grade nickel sulphate, which fetches a handsome premium on the nickel price set on the London Metal Exchange. Nickel is trading at about $13,000/tonne. Thakadu will be in steady state production from the third quarter of 2019, with commissioning starting in May. Roskill, a UK-based research and consultancy firm, says the nickel sulphate market is “growing at double-digit rates and is likely to reach 970,000...

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