Nickel Exploration and Mining – outlook and update – by Kathrine Moore (Resource World – April 28, 2020)

NICKEL IS A BASE METAL with many uses; from coins to skyscrapers it is part of our daily life, including the kitchen sink. But not all nickel is equal. Different types of nickel are used for different purposes. Mark Jarvis, CEO of Giga Metals, spoke to Resource World about the nickel industry, nickel demand and types of nickel.

According to Jarvis, 70% of all nickel produced is used to feed stainless-steel mills. Most of that nickel is class 2 nickel, including nickel pig iron, an iron nickel alloy, a type of low-grade ferro-nickel. A small amount of class 1 or pure nickel, on average 5% of the nickel units, is necessary for steel making,

All other uses of nickel require class 1 nickel, including storage batteries and batteries that power electric vehicles. Jarvis explained that class 1 nickel is nickel that can be economically upgraded to 99.9% nickel or better.

Only about half of the world’s nickel supply is suitable for use in batteries. Much of it comes from increasingly hard to find sulphide deposits like those found in Sudbury, Voisey’s Bay and Russia. Class 1 nickel from sulphide deposits is processed using simple, 100-year-old technology.

As battery technology advances, manufacturers are packing more and more nickel into them to increase electric vehicle range. Jarvis said, “The big money that is being spent by the big battery companies in research, is all about how to increase the amount of nickel in the battery chemistry because basically, the problem with electric vehicles is range anxiety.

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