Owing to its growing use in Li-ion batteries, nickel sulphate will play a crucial role in aiding the transition to a low-carbon economy. However, it is these close ties to the electric vehicle and energy storage industries which subjects the nickel sulphate supply chain (as well as those for the other battery raw materials) to an elevated level of scrutiny surrounding its sustainability credentials.
Roskill’s Nickel Sulphate Sustainability Monitor examines the key environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors which face the industry. The monitor includes an analysis of CO2 emissions resulting from the production of battery-grade nickel intermediates, Class I nickel and nickel sulphate, both now and in the future. This analysis covers the supply chain from extraction of sulphide and laterite ore through to a refined nickel sulphate product. As well as this, the monitor also analyses the effects that social and governance issues have on the supply chain.
In recent years, nickel sulphate has come under scrutiny regarding the environmental cost of production, predominantly centred around CO2 emissions relating to feedstock production and the responsible disposal of tailings. With demand for EVs and energy storage set to increase significantly over the next decade, downstream investors are becoming increasingly concerned with supply chain sustainability across all battery metals, particularly nickel. These concerns will only increase as greater volumes of production are required to satisfy growing demand.
Production of nickel sulphate by feedstock, 2013-2019 (%)
Energy consumption and emissions intensity
Roskill’s in-house CO2 and energy intensity analysis provides comprehensive coverage of the majority of operating mines and refineries within the nickel sulphate supply chain in 2020 and over the next decade. This analysis details the major high-energy and high-emission production segments of the supply chain as well as energy consumption and emissions output by fuel consumption.
Roskill’s analysis is carried out on an asset by asset basis with both energy and emissions intensity standardised to a per tonne of nickel sulphate basis for comparison across the battery industry. Also included are fuel use breakdowns, production stage energy and emissions intensity data.
Outlook on supply chain sustainability
Over the longer term, as downstream investors begin to demand greater operating standards and viable project development within nickel sulphate production, Roskill expects to see a shift towards more sustainable nickel sulphate supply.
In its current form, the production conditions are causing many downstream investors to question the sustainability of their battery metal supply chains, including that of nickel sulphate. The result has been a rise in initiatives and directives aimed at improving production pathways from an ESG point of view. In the battery metals sector, this has taken the position of Responsible Sourcing Initiatives (RSI’s) aimed at providing oversight of the supply chain. With nickel sulphate production the focus has been on detailed CO2 emissions calculation and environmental impact assessments, aiming to define the true environmental cost of our battery-powered future.
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- Detailed report with breakdowns of energy consumption and emissions output in nickel sulphate production.
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- A summary PowerPoint of key report findings