Global commodity trader Trafigura has signed a $140m (S$187.57m) investment agreement with Korea Zinc to support the development of an all-in-one nickel refinery in Ulsan, South Korea.

The nickel refinery is being developed by Korea Zinc through its nickel sulphate subsidiary Korea Energy Materials (KEMCO).

As per the deal, Trafigura will invest $140m to build the all-in-one nickel refinery. In exchange, Trafigura will secure a 12.9% stake in KEMCO.

The refinery will be equipped to process a range of feedstocks including nickel matte and mixed hydroxide precipitate.

In a press statement, Trafigura said: “The agreement is designed to build an all-in-one nickel refinery to address global regulations such as the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and fulfil customer needs by producing a wide range of products in one location.”

Furthermore, Trafigura has signed a long-term agreement with Korea Zinc for the supply of feedstock to the refinery.

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As part of this contract, Trafigura will supply nickel ranging from 20,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) to 40,000tpa to the refinery.

Trafigura will also have the offtake right pertaining to the feedstock contract.

Korea Zinc chairman Yun B Choi said: “With the energy transition in progress, Korea Zinc is committed to solidifying its position as the world’s leading non-ferrous metal refiner in the field of nickel, a key battery material.

“Through the new all-in-one nickel refinery, driven by the world’s leading refining technologies, Korea Zinc will play a meaningful role in the global nickel market.”