About Nickel


for your information ...

Nickel is a naturally occurring, lustrous, silvery-white metallic element. It is the fifth most common element on earth and occurs extensively in the earth's crust. However, most of the nickel is inaccessible in the core of the earth.

 Nickel metal’s key characteristics are:

  • High melting point, 1453 ºC
  • Resists corrosion and oxidation
  • Very ductile
  • Alloys readily
  • Magnetic at room temperature
  • Can be deposited by electroplating
  • Has catalytic properties

Source: Nickel Institute

How Nickel is Produced

Nickel occurs in nature principally as oxides, sulphides and silicates. Ores of nickel are mined in over 23 countries and are smelted or refined in 25 countries. Most important are Russia, Canada, New Caledonia, Australia, Indonesia, Cuba, China, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Botswana, Columbia, Greece and Brazil. Important nickel refineries also operate in Norway, Finland, France, Japan and the United Kingdom. Primary nickel is produced and used in the form of ferro-nickel, nickel oxides and other chemicals, and as more or less pure nickel metal. Nickel is also readily recycled from many of its applications, and large tonnages of secondary or "scrap" nickel are used to supplement newly mined metal.

Only about 1.4 million tonnes of new or primary nickel are produced and used annually in the world, compared with over 10 million tonnes of copper and nearly 800 million tonnes of steel.

About Nickel

Nickel-containing materials play a major role in our everyday lives – food preparation equipment, mobile phones, medical equipment, transport, buildings, power generation – the list is almost endless. They are selected because - compared with other materials - they offer better corrosion resistance, better toughness, better strength at high and low temperatures, and a range of special magnetic and electronic properties.

Most important are alloys of iron, nickel and chromium, of which stainless steels (frequently 8-12% nickel) are the largest volume. Nickel based alloys - like stainless steel but with higher nickel contents - are used for more demanding applications such as gas turbines and some chemical plants.

In addition, iron and nickel alloys are used in electronics and specialist engineering, while copper-nickel alloys are used for coinage and marine engineering.

There are about 3000 nickel-containing alloys in everyday use. About 90% of all new nickel sold each year goes into alloys, two-thirds going into stainless steel.

Nickel metal is used to provide hard-wearing decorative and engineering coatings as 'nickel-plating' or 'electroless nickel coating' or 'electroforming'. When used with a top layer of chromium, it is popularly known as 'chrome-plating'. When done in combination with silicon carbide it is known as composite plating.

Nickel is a key part of several rechargeable battery systems used in electronics, power tools, transport and emergency power supply. Most important today are nickel-metal hydride (NiMH).

Nickel is a key ingredient in many catalysts used to make chemical reactions more efficient.

Nickel use is growing at about 4% each year while use of nickel-containing stainless steel is growing at about 6%. The fastest growth today is seen in the newly and rapidly industrializing countries, especially in Asia. Nickel-containing materials are needed to modernize infrastructure, for industry and to meet the material aspirations of their populations.

Source: Nickel Institute

Supply / Demand  

RNC – Royal Nickel Corporation   

Nickel Pig Iron (NPI) is primarily produced in China using laterite ore imported predominantly from Indonesia.  Indonesia implemented the previously announced ban on the export of nickel bearing laterite ore in January 2014.  The ban has resulted in significant upwards pressure on the nickel price.

Combined with relatively few new nickel projects in the pipeline and continued growth in global demand at about 4% per year the nickel market has suddenly become far more dynamic with an upwards bias.


                                                                                                      April 2014

The price of nickel has risen significantly since the announcement of the nickel ore export ban by Indonesia at the start of 2014.