HANOI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Major Chinese nickel maker Tsingshan Group has started commercial production of refined nickel in Indonesia, three sources familiar with the production told Reuters on Monday.
The plant, based in Morowali in Indonesia with an ultimate planned annual capacity of 50,000 metric tons, started commercial production last week, the sources said, declining to be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media.
Tsingshan did not respond to Reuters’ calls or email.
The plant has started making nickel plate, sources told Reuters. It is unclear how much the current capacity is and when the plant will reach 50,000 ton capacity.
Sources told Reuters that Tsingshan plans to apply for the nickel produced at this plant to be listed as a deliverable brand on the London Metal Exchange (LME), which requires a minimum three months of stable production.
A subsidiary of China’s Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co received approval for its nickel made at its 36,600-ton plant in Zhejiang province to be listed as a deliverable brand on the LME.
Jingmen Gem Co, a unit of GEM Co Ltd, also applied to list its nickel from its 10,000-ton plant in Hubei province.
More Chinese producers are expected to apply for their nickel brands to be listed on the LME, especially after the LME cut the waiting time for listing as part of its programme to revive nickel trade volumes after a 2022 crisis.
The volume slumped after LME prices doubled in just hours in disorderly trade on March 8, 2022, prompting LME to suspend its nickel market for the first time since 1988 and cancel all nickel trades on that day.
(Reporting by Mai Nguyen in Hanoi and Siyi Liu in Beijing; Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Susan Fenton)