Archive | Nickel Laterites

Silkroad Nickel inks heads of agreement for joint venture to build smelter facilities in Sulawesi – by Vivien Shiao (Business Times – September 19, 2018)

CATALIST-LISTED Indonesian nickel mining group Silkroad Nickel announced that its subsidiary PT Teknik Alum Service (PT TAS), and PT Artabumi Sentra Industri (PT ASI) have entered into a non-binding heads of agreement with PT Anugrah Tambang Smelter for its entire equity interest.

Through the acquisition, it aims to build and operate smelter facilities for the production of nickel pig iron on the group’s mine site in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

PT Anugrah Tambang Smelter, a limited liability company established under Indonesian law, holds valid principle and location permit licences for the construction of a smelter factory in Buleleng Village, Bungku Pesisir Subdistrict, Morowali Regency, Sulawesi, Indonesia. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Nickel’s “electric premium” crushed by trade tensions – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – September 18, 2018)

LONDON, Sept 18 (Reuters) – Nickel has finally succumbed to the base metals price rout. It is still the best year-to-date performer among the core six metals traded on the London Metal Exchange (LME)

But at a current $12,400 per tonne, LME three-month metal is, like the rest of the pack, now trading below year-start levels. The excitement around the potential boost to nickel demand from its use in electric vehicle batteries hasn’t been completely dispelled.

But the “electric premium” in the price has been crushed by the broader market concerns about the escalating trade stand-off between the United States and China.

The tensions between nickel’s electric future and the metal’s current stainless steel reality are all too evident and if anything are going to become more acute the further the price falls. Continue Reading →

The rare rainforest tree that bleeds metal ( – September 17, 2018)

Pycnandra acuminata is a rare tree native to the shrinking rainforests of New Caledonia that has the rare ability to collect large quantities of nickel from the ground. Its blue-green sap reportedly contains up to 25% nickel.

Trees, or plants in general for that matter, and heavy metals like nickel and zinc don’t really go well together, and that’s what makes Pycnandra acuminata and a few other rare tress species known as “hyperaccumulators” so special.

They have somehow evolved to suck out normally toxic levels of heavy metals from the soil and store it in their stems, leaves and seeds. Unfortunately, heavy deforestation in New Caledonia has put this remarkable tree on the list of endangered trees before scientists could even figure out how and why it can tolerate such high quantities of nickel in its latex-like sap. Continue Reading →

RPT-Nickel producers eye Indonesia to plug into EV battery market – by Fergus Jensen (Reuters U.S. – September 16, 2018)

JAKARTA, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Several global metals producers have set their sights on Indonesia’s nickel reserves to tap an expected surge in demand for the metal for electric vehicle batteries.

Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd (SMM) said on Thursday that it and nickel miner PT Vale Indonesia are conducting a feasibility study to build a nickel processing project in Pomalaa, Southeast Sulawesi. A spokesman for Vale said the plant would make an intermediate nickel and cobalt product that would then be processed into nickel sulphate for batteries.

Major nickel producers are taking a closer look at Indonesia whose large nickel laterite ore reserves are already prized for nickel pig iron used in stainless steel production. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Nickel price to benefit from short supply, strong steel demand through 2019 – by Fergus Jensen (Reuters Africa – September 12, 2018)

JAKARTA, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Slower production increases in leading supplier Indonesia and continued growth in stainless steel demand are forecast to extend a supply shortage in the global nickel market, supporting price gains through 2019.

Nickel, which recently hit its lowest since December, could climb as high as $16,000 a tonne by the end of 2018 and $18,000 a year later, Macquarie Capital senior commodities consultant Jim Lennon said on the sidelines of the MetalBulletin 6th Asian Nickel Conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Nickel has been supported by stainless steel demand growth that exceeded 9 percent in the first half of 2018, Lennon said. But concerns have emerged in recent months that global growth has peaked against the backdrop of an evolving trade war between the United States and China, dampening the outlook for the 2.2-million-tonne per year global nickel market, he said. Continue Reading →

Nickel: New king of PH minerals – by Jimbo Owen B. Gulle (Manila Standard – September 10, 2018)

The Philippines used to be known for its gold, silver, and copper, but a new element has taken the throne as the country’s top mineral product: nickel. As the world’s second-biggest supplier of nickel ore, the country exported 577,000 metric tons of it in 2016 and 2017 combined.

Last year’s nickel ore exports came in at 230,000 metric tons — a third less than the 2016 figure—but still raked in $455.21 million (P24.533 billion) for the country in 2017, according to the United Nations Comtrade database on international trade.

That dollar figure shows the bright potential of the versatile element for the Philippine economy, perhaps even more than the precious metals mined elsewhere in the country. Continue Reading →

Philippines implements fresh nickel mining curbs in environment protection drive – by Enrico dela Cruz (Reuters U.S. – September 6, 2018)

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines, one of the world’s top suppliers of nickel ore, will this week start limiting the land that miners can develop at any one time as new rules to protect the environment take effect.

The new curbs, backed by President Rodrigo Duterte, target 29 of 48 mines operating in the Philippines, which are nickel producers supplying ores to the world’s leading market, China. Reuters first reported the new set of restrictions in April.

Mining is a deeply contentious issue in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country after past examples of environmental mismanagement. The industry group Chamber of Mines of the Philippines said it supports the government order. Continue Reading →

New Caledonia: boycotts and blockade – by Denise Fisher (The Interpreter – August 31, 2018)

The Interpreter is published by the Lowy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan think tank based in Sydney.

Preparations are under way for New Caledonia’s historic independence referendum just two months away. Ongoing constructive dialogue and peaceful campaigning have been marred by division and boycotts, and a worrying three-week long blockade over nickel mining by some young Kanaks.

The November referendum is the first of potentially three independence referendums over the next six years. Divisions are many and bitter. If the three referendums possible under the Noumea Accord do not result in a “yes” to independence, discussions must be held with the French state over the future.

So, establishing a habit of dialogue and discussion at this stage is an important confidence building step, as 30 years of predictability and peace under negotiated agreements come to an end. Continue Reading →

Commentary: Nickel is dancing to a new electric (vehicle) beat – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – August 15, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – The world used almost 2.2 million tonnes of nickel last year. Around two thirds of that metal was absorbed by the stainless steel industry, which uses it as a key alloying agent.

Stainless steel production has been booming. Global output rose by 5.8 percent last year and accelerated by another 9.5 percent in the first quarter of 2018, according to the International Stainless Steel Forum.

This has been good news for nickel. The International Nickel Study Group (INSG) estimates that global first-use nickel usage jumped by 7.8 percent last year and by another 9.7 percent in the first five months of this year. Continue Reading →

Diggers & Dealers 2018: Cost hurdle for nickel developers chasing battery cash, says Western Areas – by Josh Chiat (The West Australia – August 7, 2018)

Western Areas managing director Dan Lougher has fired a warning shot to nickel laterite developers, questioning whether the oncoming battery boom will make high-cost projects viable.

The euphoria around the potential for lithium ion batteries to transform demand for their highest volume ingredient and rising prices for cobalt have prompted owners of a string of low-grade lateritic projects to dust them off. Large-scale nickel laterite mines can be costly to both build and process, often relying on a chemical-intensive process called high-pressure acid leach to extract the resource.

Mr Lougher told delegates at the Diggers and Dealers forum in Kalgoorlie-Boulder today the battery market would be a growing contributor to nickel demand over the next decade, which was still dominated by steel makers, but that high-grade nickel sulphide producers would be the quickest to scale up for the new market. Continue Reading →

Nickel price increases likely to put pressure on plastic automotive components says UK manufacturer – by Leanne Taylor (British Plastics and Rubber – July 31, 2018)

A UK manufacturer of a metal-plated plastic automotive components says the increasing price of nickel is likely to put pressure on the price of parts.

David Brereton, Sales Director for Essex-based Borough Ltd, says the steady upward price increase of nickel could create “a knock-on effect” when it comes to the manufacturing process. “We have worked hard over decades to perfect our ability to chrome plate plastic components and nickel plays a critical role,” explained Brereton.

“To make the plastic components electronically conductive, we deposit a layer of nickel over a catalytic palladium layer during a chemical dipping process, before we can add the copper, more nickel layers and chrome that ensure the quality finish top marques demand. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Philippines nickel ore exports seen dropping up to 17 pct on low prices – by Enrico Dela Cruz (Reuters U.S. – July 10, 2018)

MANILA, July 10 (Reuters) – The Philippines’ nickel ore exports could drop by up to 17 percent this year as weaker prices curb output in the world’s second-biggest supplier, the head of a nickel mining industry group said on Tuesday.

Shipments of nickel ore, used to make stainless steel, could fall to 30-35 million tonnes from 36 million tonnes in 2017, Dante Bravo, president of the Philippine Nickel Industry Association, told a media forum.

“As a whole, we expect exports this year to be less than what we saw last year because the price of low-grade nickel now is weak,” he said. The Philippines is the world’s No.2 nickel ore supplier after Indonesia, shipping the bulk of its output to top buyer China. Continue Reading →

Electric vehicle demand will double nickel price – as soon as 2022 – by Frik Els ( – July 9, 2018)

After a gravity-defying run, nickel has now also succumbed to weakness in the industrial metals complex as global trade fears mount, declining to $14,125 per tonne on Monday.

The metal, mainly used in stainless steel manufacture, is down 10% or more than $1,600 a tonne from more than three-year highs hit on the LME a month ago.

Nickel is still up by 62% compared to its June 2017 lows, mostly on the back of falling inventories in top consumer China. On the Shanghai Futures Exchange nickel stocks have dropped for 24 straight weeks while LME warehouses are the emptiest since mid-2014. Continue Reading →

GRAPHIC-Inventory draws highlight nickel shortages, buttress prices – by Pratima Desai (Reuters U.K. – June 28, 2018)

LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) – Two years ago the chances of a nickel price recovery seemed remote, but that mindset has changed as shrinking stocks and falling supplies have created a bullish backdrop for the stainless steel ingredient.

Benchmark nickel on the London Metal Exchange recently hit $16,690 a tonne, the highest since December 2014, after falling to 13-year lows below $8,000 a tonne in February 2016.

A retreat to around $15,000 a tonne was triggered by fears of a trade war between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies. However, prices are still up about 70 percent since June 2017 when expectations of deficits began. Continue Reading →

Philippines’ Duterte says to end mining ‘one of these days’ Manolo Serapio Jr (Reuters U.S. – July 2, 2018)

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday he would soon halt mining in the Southeast Asian nation because of the environmental damage it has caused, renewing his threat made nearly two years ago to shut down the industry completely.

Mining has been a contentious issue in the Philippines, the world’s No. 2 nickel ore supplier after Indonesia, due to cases of environmental mismanagement.

“I will decide one of these days, I will end mining,” Duterte told a public event in central Philippines, after citing destruction caused by mineral extraction. “It is a very destructive activity though you would call it economic activity.” Continue Reading →