Nickel intermediates could provide the most cost-effective means of bringing on-stream additional class one nickel units to serve the growing battery market, according to Frank Nikolic, head of base metals intelligence at Vale.
Nickel demand from the battery sector could increase to 1.8 million tonnes by 2030 from 700,000 tonnes by 2025, according to Vale’s upside forecast. Its more conservative forecast suggests demand of 350,000 tonnes in 2025 and of 1 million tonnes by 2030.
“Can the nickel market respond to such massive demand drivers? Look at intermediates – it’s something that is going to serve the market,” Nikolic said at Metal Bulletin’s inaugural Battery Materials conference in Shanghai last week.
The nickel industry was able to deliver a 779,000-tonne increase in supply to the stainless steel market over the past ten years by mining laterite ore and taking advantage of low capital costs, delegates heard.
But unlike the previous growth in supply, the growth of the battery sector requires a move towards producing class one nickel, which can be used by the battery sector