Five years ago, a young South African, Ruli Diseko, spotted an opportunity to turn a little-loved mineral at a platinum company into a business opportunity and a chance to tap into a market worth more than R1.6-trillion.

Diseko, the 36-year-old founder and CEO of Thakadu Group, the owner of Thakadu Battery Materials, has raised R275m to invest in a plant that will produce a pure form of nickel, called nickel sulphate that is in high demand by makers of batteries used in electric vehicles, a rapidly growing and lucrative market.

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