QUOTE AND NEWS
Motley Fool  Aug 10  Comment 
Nickel prices have been riding high in recent weeks, which could enable investors to dig up some profits if they know where to find nickel mining stocks.
The Economic Times  Aug 10  Comment 
"Nickel is the key raw material and when nickel price falls there is a slight time lag between when it gets passed on to the customer," Mantri added.
WA Business News  Aug 10  Comment 
This week’s announcement that First Quantum Minerals plans to close its Ravensthorpe nickel mine, at a cost of 450 jobs, has overshadowed several positive developments in the nickel sector.
WA Business News  Aug 9  Comment 
BHP Nickel West charged by battery boom new revolution
The Hindu Business Line  Aug 9  Comment 
The uptrend in the Nickel futures contract on the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) has gained momentum over the past week. After consolidating in a sideways range between ₹645 and ₹665 a kg for about a ...
Financial Times  Aug 9  Comment 
Australian miners see surging demand for lithium, cobalt and nickel
WA Business News  Aug 7  Comment 
In this Business News podcast Mark Pownall and Mark Beyer discuss Woodside’s Fifo project, contrary views in the nickel sector, Jimmy Wilson’s lateral move, Port Hedland’s dust issue and small business.




 
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Nickel is a metal which is mainly used as an alloying element of stainless steel, major ingredient of brass, and for electroplating. Nickel is also used together with lanthanum in the nickel metal hydrid (NiMH) battery.[1] Nickel is highly resistant to corrosion and is widely used to create corrosion resistant alloys and is also used heavily in the electroplating process. Nickel is used with Chromium to create Nichrome, which has a high melting point and is used for the efficient conversion of electricity to heat. Annual world production was 1.4 million tonnes in 2007.[2]

The chart at left shows continuous front-month futures prices for Nickel traded on the London Metal Exchange.

Metal Exchange

Nickel is traded at the London Metal Exchange (LME).[3]

Nickel Producers

Nickel deposits are classified as either sulfide or laterite deposits. Economical viable laterite deposits are huge but with lower concentration of the ore in comparison with sulfide deposits. The primary ore associated with sulfide deposits is Millerite.[4] Biggest producers are

Key Trends and Forces

Economic Cycles

Nickel prices are reacting significant to over or undersupply of the markets with the metal. Prices peaked at more than 50,000 USD/tonne in March 2007 and subsequently declined to less than 10,000 USD/tonne in February 2009. Unprofitable mines were closed as a consequence and one of those was the new Ravensthorpe laterite mine in Australia (BHP) which was supposed to produce 50,000 tpa after full rampup.[5]

Emerging Economies

Usage of stainless steel is increasing with the growth of the economies. Average growth rate for stainless steel production in the BRIC countries was 26.3% during the years 2001-2008.[6]

Different Types Of Stainless Steel

High nickel prices initiated a switch to 200-series steels. This type of steels have 3.5-6% nickel content rather than 8-10.5% in 300-series steels.[7]

Substitution By Nickel Pig Iron

A further reaction to the high nickel prices in 2007 was the use of low grade nickel ore to create nickel pig iron as a substitute for refined nickel in China. This process is not sustainable if nickel prices are below 24,000 USD per tonne.[8]

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References

  1. Wikipedia article on Nickel
  2. International Nickel Study Group - Statistics
  3. London Metal Exchange (LME) London Metal Exchange - Standard Nickel Hub Page
  4. Environmental Sustainability Metrics for Nickel Sulphide Versus Nickel Laterite, December 2008
  5. BHP shelves Ravensthorpe, slashes 1800 jobs, January 2009
  6. Global Stainless Steel Forecast, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, January 2009
  7. Substitution of low-nickel stainless steel grades finds momentum, September 2007
  8. China Raises Nickel Pig Iron Production This Year, Juni 2007
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