Archive | Nickel Laterites

Greece to sell troubled nickel producer Larco’s assets: minister (Reuters U.S. – January 24, 2020)

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece plans to liquidate Larco, one of Europe’s biggest nickel producers which is struggling under heavy debt, and then look for an investor for some of the company’s assets, its energy minister said on Friday.

The European Commission said in November it was taking Greece to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over its failure to recover 135.8 million euros ($150.7 million) of illegal state aid to Larco.

The ECJ ruled in 2017 that Greece needed to recover the money, based on a Commission decision in 2014 related to capital injections and state guarantees. Continue Reading →

Indonesia approves environmental study for battery-grade nickel plants: minister – by Fransiska Nangoy and Wilda Asmarini (Reuters U.S. – January 8, 2019)

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia has approved environmental impact studies for factories to produce battery-grade nickel chemicals in Morowali, Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said on Wednesday.

The approval will allow investors, such as China’s stainless steel giant Tsingshan Group, to continue the construction of their high-pressure acid leaching plants in Morowali, Central Sulawesi.

There are at least five of these plants being built in Indonesia currently as the government seeks to use its nickel resources to create an integrated industry, including production of nickel chemicals used in car batteries and the building of electronic vehicles. Continue Reading →

Philippine nickel output seen growing at about 8% a year (Business World – January 8, 2020)


NICKEL production is expected to increase by over 8% a year in the next few years despite policy uncertainty that could limit project development, Fitch Solutions Macro Research said in a report.

“We expect Philippine production to continue rising over the coming years although high levels of policy uncertainty could constrain project development, posing downside risks to our forecasts. We forecast nickel production to average 8.6% year-on-year growth over 2020-2028,” Fitch Solutions said in its industry trend analysis published Jan. 8.

It said that the Philippines will regain its spot as the mineral’s top producer due to Indonesia’s nickel ore export ban, which took effect this year. Indonesia hopes to accelerate the establishment of domestic smelters to capture more value than the current practice of exporting ore. Continue Reading →

Madagascar mining chamber criticises plan to raise minerals taxes (Reuters Africa – December 16, 2019)

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – Madagascar’s mining chamber on Monday sharply criticised a draft mining law that proposes greater government revenue from mining activities, saying the changes will halt new investment and endanger existing mining operations in the country.

The bill, seen by Reuters last week, shows that Madagascar plans to increase its royalties on nickel, cobalt, precious metals, and gemstones to 4% from 2% at present. It also proposes a government stake of at least 20% in any marketable mining production.

The mining chamber said in an emailed statement in response to questions from Reuters that the government did not consult the chamber, the private sector or civil society on the draft bill. Continue Reading →

The future of nickel: tensions, trade bans and technology – by Umar Ali (Mining Technology – December 10, 2019)

It’s an interesting time for nickel on the global markets. Prices have risen dramatically despite trade tensions between the US and China, and are expected to explode as Indonesia and the Philippines prepare for nickel export bans. We assess the market dynamics of this important metal.

Indonesia’s export ban

With increased demand for stainless steel production and recent developments in technologies such as electric vehicles, demand for nickel is higher than ever. Unfortunately, this demand is struggling against an increasingly tightening supply of the essential metal.

In response to the risk of this increasing demand tightening local supply, the Indonesian government announced in September 2019 a ban on the export of raw nickel ores, bringing the ban forward from 2022 to January 2020. Continue Reading →

Backes expects China may get New Caledonia nickel stake ( – December 9, 2019)

New Caledonia’s Southern Province president has indicated that the Brazilian miner Vale may well have no option but to sell its assets in New Caledonia’s south to Chinese investors.

Sonia Backes said this year Vale had lost $US200 million. She said in its current state, Vale would not find a buyer and therefore she was in favour of the company adopting a new strategy.

Ms Backes made the comment in an interview with the Nouvelles Caledoniennes days after Vale put its plant at Goro up for sale, with yet to be determined job losses. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Nickel bubble deflates but a bear trap may be opening – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – December 5, 2019)

LONDON, Dec 5 (Reuters) – The nickel price bubble is slowly deflating but bears would be advised to tread carefully with a sharp fall in LME inventory threatening a repeat of the time-spread turbulence that rocked the London market in late September.

London Metal Exchange (LME) nickel surged to a five-year high of $18,850 on Sept. 2, from $12,000 per tonne at the start of July, as Indonesia brought forward to a ban on exports of nickel ore to January.

But the exuberance has dissipated with short-term fund money pulling out to leave LME three-month metal around $13,100 per tonne currently. While nickel may be on the electric vehicle (EV) investment grid because of its use in lithium-ion batteries, an old driver is reasserting itself – namely the state of the stainless steel market. Continue Reading →

Vale to exit New Caledonia, eyes Indonesia to boost nickel output – by Eric Onstad and Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – December 4, 2019)

LONDON (Reuters) – Brazil’s Vale SA plans to exit its troubled New Caledonia assets but still aims to ramp up nickel output ahead of rising demand for electric batteries, executives said on Wednesday.

The planned divestment of nickel operations in New Caledonia comes after Vale said last month it would write down the mine and incur a non-cash impairment charge of about $1.6 billion in the fourth quarter.

A year ago, the world’s top nickel producer unveiled plans to invest $500 million in the mine after failing to find a partner for the operation. Continue Reading →

Indonesia Dangles Cheaper Energy to Lure Billions in Investment – by Tassia Sipahutar (Bloomberg/Financial Post – December 4, 2019)

(Bloomberg) — Indonesia is touting an abundance of low-cost renewable energy to lure billions of dollars in investment Southeast Asia’s largest economy needs to build processing plants for commodities such as nickel, copper and aluminum.

The commodity powerhouse has potential to develop 33,000 megawatts of hydro power and 29,000 megawatts of geothermal energy at costs as low as 2-4 cents per kilowatt, Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said. The green energy will help the country cut its use of fossil fuels and produce more value-added commodities, he said.

Indonesia, home to some of the world’s largest deposits of copper, nickel and tin, is curbing exports of raw materials to force companies to build refineries and smelters to create more jobs and boost export earnings. Continue Reading →

Vale puts New Caledonian nickel operation up for sale – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – December 4, 2019)

Brazilian mining giant Vale (NYSE:VALE) is selling its ailing Goro nickel operation on the Pacific Island of New Caledonia, which has been strewn with operational problems ever since it came on stream, two years behind schedule, in 2011.

The company, the world’s top nickel producer, had been hoping to attract a partner for the loss-making asset, but the lack of success prompted it to go it alone. Exactly a year ago, Vale announced it would invest $500 million in the project, mainly on a waste storage facility, between 2019 and 2022.

The company, however, has never fully mastered the challenging high-pressure-acid-lead (HPAL) technology used to convert ore to nickel oxides. Continue Reading →

The World’s Biggest Battery Recycler Is Helping Fuel The Future of Cars (Bloomberg News – November 26, 2019)

(Bloomberg) — The former university professor leading one of the firms most crucial to the future of transport has a warning for anyone eyeing his patch.

“I want to tell everyone who wants to enter this market: don’t do it, you are wasting your money,” said Xu Kaihua, chairman of Chinese battery metals maker GEM Co. “Only the top five will survive.”

The firm Xu founded in Shenzhen in 2001 has adopted an expansive business model that’s made it central to supply chains stretching from the cobalt and nickel mines of Africa and Southeast Asia to the motors of Volkswagen and BMW cars. GEM’s diverse footprint includes a plant in Indonesia that will allow it to avoid that nation’s export ban on nickel, a key raw material. And, the company is already the world’s biggest recycler of metals from used batteries. Continue Reading →

Mining turned Indonesian seas red. The drive for greener cars could herald a new toxic tide. – by Ian Morse (Washington Post – November 20, 2019)

POMALAA, Indonesia — Where forested hills dip into the sea, Sahman Ukas scoops up rusty-red topsoil. His hands hold nickel that is more concentrated than many of the world’s richest deposits.

It’s no wonder, then, that on Sahman’s island of Sulawesi, companies have opened several mines in the past 15 years to feed the global market for stainless steel — made ductile and tough with nickel.

Now, a growing appetite for electric vehicles is creating new demand for nickel, whose chemical derivatives are increasingly used in cathodes of lithium-ion batteries. But the push for clean energy is coming at an environmental cost to forests and fisheries in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. Continue Reading →

Indonesia’s competition watchdog looks into nickel sector after cartel complaint (Reuters U.S. – November 18, 2019)

JAKARTA, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Indonesia’s anti-monopoly agency has begun a preliminary study of the country’s nickel smelting sector, an agency official said on Monday, after a miners’ association accused big nickel smelters of conducting a cartel.

The agency will decide whether to launch a full investigation of pricing and other practices in the industry after completing its initial enquiries, Guntur Saragih, a commissioner at Indonesia’s Commission for the Supervision of Business Competition (KPPU), told a news briefing.

The Indonesian nickel miners association (APNI) has claimed that two giant smelters control 60% of the local nickel ore market and determine prices in Indonesia, the world’s biggest nickel ore exporter. It has not named the two smelters. Continue Reading →

Is China locking up Indonesian nickel? – by Richard Mills ( – October 2019)

As it has done with cobalt, graphite and rare earths, China appears to be locking up the nickel market. Nickel’s top producer, Indonesia, in early September decided to accelerate a scheduled ban on ore export shipments, from 2022 to January 1, 2020.

The ban which instead took immediate effect on Oct. 28, is to encourage the building of domestic smelters instead of exporting raw nickel, and other metals, for processing abroad. (the country did the same thing in 2014 but lifted the ban three years later).

No coincidence

Is it any coincidence that Indonesia decided in September to ban nickel ore exports, just a few weeks after a meeting between Indonesian president Joko Widodo and Chinese industrial executives, including Xiang Guanda, who in partnership with his wife, runs Tsingshan Holding Group? Continue Reading →