Struggling nickel sector ‘disappointed’ by critical minerals snub – by Peter Ker and Brad Thompson (Australian Financial Review – December 18, 2023)

The boss of Andrew Forrest’s private mining company says nickel’s omission from Australia’s expanded critical minerals list is “disappointing” at a time when weak prices for the battery metal are endangering “hundreds” of Australian mining jobs.

Wyloo Resources boss Luca Giacovazzi issued the warning on the same day the federal department of industry warned of more “downward pressure” on nickel prices in 2024 because Indonesian miners were poised to oversupply nickel markets for years to come.

The Australian nickel sector has enjoyed decade-high prices over the past two years as companies such as IGO, Wyloo and POSCO collectively spent more than $2 billion buying smaller miners in the belief nickel would enjoy strong future demand from battery manufacturers.

But those deals are looking troubled now that a supply surge has outpaced demand growth, almost halved nickel prices since January, and forced Australian miners such as Panoramic into administration. Mr Giacovazzi has previously floated a desire to build downstream nickel processing in WA but said a decision by Resources Minister Madeleine King to deny nickel access to the government’s “critical” minerals list was a blow.

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