Nickel is essential to the stainless steel, metal alloy and construction industries, which are found in all facets of modern life. It is also the critical metal used in all long-life batteries for phones, computers, power tools, jet and wind turbines, energy storage cells and electric vehicles (EVs).
Nickel is first converted into first-use products such as alloys and stainless steel, then manufactured into the end-use products which populate our lives.
The nickel component is the primary cathode constituent of most types of lithium-ion batteries (and of course nickel-cadmium batteries like Duracells). It is particularly important as it provides longer life, increased performance and faster recharge times. Especially as EVs are predicted to continue to penetrate the market and reach 22-30% by 2030, hugely increasing the demand for nickel and other critical metals.
Importantly, nickel suitable for high tech is a pure form termed Class 1 Nickel which is 99.8% pure, and is only produced from nickel sulphide mines.
Class II Nickel is produced from nickel laterite deposits (tropical, oxidized deposits with a high iron content), scrap recycling and Chinese nickel pig iron (environmentally harmful low grade nickel products produced from laterites and coal in blast furnaces).
Only about 25% of the 2.5 million tons of refined nickel produced in 2020 is suitable for battery industry – and it is fully committed – hence appeals such as Elon Musk/Tesla for more nickel mines, and various deals announced to secure supply.
- High-grade nickel sulphide potential for cathode production
- Good infrastructure or locations close to tide water for ease of exploration/development, lower costs, longer field seasons
- Good mining jurisdictions in Canada to ensure development