The stainless steel sector still accounts for 70% of primary nickel consumption. Given that consumers of electric vehicles and other clean energy technologies are for the most part inherently conscious of the environmental impact of their purchase, many producers and prospective producers of nickel, destined for these markets, are aiming to improve their carbon footprints.
Following Tsingshan’s announcement that it will convert the traditional stainless steel feedstock NPI to nickel matte for nickel sulfate production used in Li-ion batteries, this exposure to the battery sector has now led to producers of Class II (FeNi and NPI) nickel being judged on their emissions. Attention is now turning to the stainless steel sector amid the rising narrative surrounding ‘green steel’ and decarbonization of the steel industry.
CO2 analysis has become an important tool for determining the true environmental impact of a given supply chain or production route. To calculate the CO2 emissions from NPI and FeNi production, there are several important aspects to consider: (i) Emissions from transporting laterite ore feedstocks; (ii) Power/electricity consumption for powering on-site processing and refining activities; and (iii) Fuel and reagents consumed within processing and refining activities.