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Ontario could provide manufacturers like Tesla, Apple and Toyota with a stable, long-term supply of the nickel sulfide required to build lithium-ion batteries.
In 2017, global nickel production amounted to 2.1 million tons and 85 percent served stainless and alloy steel manufacturers. However, recent years have not been easy for some nickel producers. In the past decade, manufacturers have pursued cheaper substitutes for class 1 nickel, including ferronickel and nickel pig iron.
In response, prices for nickel plummeted from US$29,000 per tonne in 2011 to just US$10,000 in 2017. The price drop led to the curtailment of class 1 nickel production globally. The London Metal Exchange posted a nickel price of US$13,870 on July 13, 2018.
But nickel markets are evolving. Nickel comprises an increasingly large portion of lithium-ion battery cathodes. Because lithium-ion batteries are compact in size and hold a significant charge, they are highly sought after.
Real headway has been made to make EVs a competitive substitute to fossil fuel-based vehicles. In 2008, lithium-ion EV battery packs were a staggering US$600 to US$1,200 per kilowatt hour (kwh). Today that price is south of US$200 per kwh and dropping.
Range is also increasing: Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model X has an impressive range of 475 kilometers between charges. It would be like driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on one tank of gas. EVs keep marching towards cost parity with fossil fuel vehicles, and nickel is essential to serving this growing market.
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