(Bloomberg) -- Australia’s richest person, Andrew Forrest, has called on the London Metal Exchange to differentiate between “dirty” and “clean” nickel, after his privately-held metals business announced it would be forced to shut mines.

The LME should classify nickel based on its carbon emissions so customers are “able to make a choice” on the sustainability of their products, the mining tycoon told reporters in Canberra on Monday. Some companies are using batteries from cheap nickel mined in Indonesia, known for their higher emissions footprint and questionable environmental standards, Forrest added.

“You want the choice to buy clean nickel if you can,” Forrest said. “So the London Metal Exchange must differentiate between dirty and clean. They’re two different products, they have two vastly different impacts.”

Indonesian nickel has flooded the market over the past year, causing prices to plummet, and now accounts for more than half of global supply. That’s led to the closure of higher-cost Australian operations, with Forrest’s Wyloo Metals Ltd. announcing last month it would shut down its Western Australian mines. The billionaire made the bulk of his fortune after founding iron ore miner Fortescue Ltd.

The majority of nickel produced in Indonesia is processed using coal-fired power. The carbon footprint of the nation’s exports, along with significant environmental impacts associated with mining the ore including deforestation, pollution, and biodiversity loss, was highlighted in a Climate Rights International report published last month.

The LME “supports the metals and mining industry on several sustainability measures to ensure transparency” through the supply chain, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“We work closely with Metalshub which operates a platform that allows metals market participants to transact in material of custom specifications and with particular ESG characteristics,” the spokesperson said. “Low carbon nickel can already be listed on Metalshub today and the transaction data supports identification of a credible ‘green premium’ to the LME price.”

(Updates with LME spokesperson response in sixth, seventh paragraphs.)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.