Column: A nickel refinery tops U.S. battery metals wish list – by Andy Home (Fiancial Post/Reuters – June 14, 2021)

LONDON (Reuters) – The United States government should invest in nickel refining capacity in coordination with its allies, according to the Biden Administration’s 100-day review of critical supply chains.

“If there are opportunities for the U.S. to target one part of the battery supply chain, this would likely be the most critical to provide short- and medium-term supply chain stability,” the report said.

It’s an unexpected priority. Nickel isn’t on the U.S. list of critical minerals. Although the country depends on imports, 68% of supplies come from what the report calls “allied nations” such as Canada, Australia, Norway and Finland.

But the Department of Energy (DOE) has identified Class 1 nickel, the type best suited to lithium-ion batteries, as both key vulnerability and key opportunity.

The emphasis on nickel doesn’t mean the White House is complacent about other critical battery materials such as lithium and cobalt but it says a lot about how the administration is thinking about the problem.

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