(Reuters) – The rise of electric cars is spurring Sherritt International Corp (S.TO) to consider branching into producing the types of nickel most sought after by battery manufacturers, the chief executive of the Canadian company said on Monday.
David Pathe said Sherritt, which is one of the world’s largest producers of nickel, was studying the economics around building a plant to produce nickel sulphate, a powder-like substance particularly suited for use in batteries.
Sherritt already produces high-grade nickel for use in the stainless steel industry and in sophisticated applications including batteries. The company does not produce nickel sulphate, which consistently fetches a price premium over London Metal Exchange-traded nickel.
BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) (BLT.L), the world’s biggest mining house, said last month it planned to spend more than $43 million building a sulphate plant in Australia as part of a broader plan to reposition its long-suffering nickel business around batteries.
“Amongst other things, we are looking at what it would take to produce a sulphate like that,” Pathe said in an interview. Sherritt was also studying “what other forms of nickel may be most desirable to battery makers” as the battery industry evolves, he said.
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