BHP to Shut Australia Nickel Business as Glut Upends Market – by Paul-Alain Hunt, Thomas Biesheuvel, and Mark Burton (BloombergBNN News – July 11, 2024)

(Bloomberg) — BHP Group Ltd. will close its loss-making nickel business in Australia until at least early 2027, after a global glut of the metal spread havoc through the market.

The company will place its Nickel West business on “care and maintenance” from October due to low prices of the metal used in electric-vehicle batteries, it said in a statement Thursday. It will also halt the development of its West Musgrave nickel mine.

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Glencore warns of nickel job losses unless labour costs controlled – by Brad Thompson, Tom Rabe and James Hall (Australian Financial Review – July 12, 2024)

Global mining heavyweight Glencore says the future of its nickel and cobalt operations in Australia will hinge on keeping a lid on labour and energy costs and access to infrastructure.

In what shapes as another blow to Anthony Albanese’s critical minerals ambitions, Glencore warned it was closely monitoring the situation and the future of its Murrin Murrin mine in Western Australia, which employs about 1500 people and is the nation’s biggest source of cobalt.

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BHP’s Nickel West closure could mark end of Australian nickel industry, analyst says – by Emily JB Smith and Ethan French (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – July 11, 2024)

The closure of mining giant BHP’s nickel operations in Western Australia will have ripple effects far and wide and could signal “the end of the Australian nickel industry”, according to a prominent mining analyst.

BHP announced yesterday it would begin suspending operations at the Kwinana nickel refinery in Perth, the Kalgoorlie smelter and its major mines at Mt Keith and Leinster in the state’s Goldfields from October. BHP said market conditions were to blame for its decision to either redeploy or offer redundancies to 1,600 of its frontline workers, while hundreds more contractors would be impacted.

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Cancellation of Nickel Investments Should Be a Wake-Up Call for Indonesia – by Krista Shennum (The Diplomat – July 05, 2024)

The government’s break-neck drive to exploit its nickel deposits should not come at the expense of human rights and the environment.

On June 24, two multinational mining and mineral processing giants, France-based Eramet and Germany-based BASF, announced that they would cancel plans for a $2.6 billion nickel-cobalt refinery located within the Indonesia Weda Bay Industrial Park (IWIP), in North Maluku, Indonesia.

The companies cited commercial reasons, but the Indonesian government would be short-sighted to ignore other concerns. In an indirect reference to human rights and environmental concerns with nickel processing operations at IWIP, a BASF spokesperson said the company needs a “secure, responsible, and sustainable supply of critical raw materials.” Implicit in the companies’ statements is that they are concerned about increasing their reputational risk through a new investment at IWIP.

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Blood nickel: What electric-vehicle hunger has wrought, and how Canada can help – by Mark Selby (Globe and Mail – July 4, 2024)

Mark Selby is the founder and CEO of Canada Nickel Co.

Blood diamonds, blood cobalt, and now blood nickel. Governments leading the global shift toward electric vehicles promise cleaner cities and a new era of sustainable energy and improved resource usage.

But just as governments promote EVs on environmental grounds, manufacturers are forced to source nickel from a region enabling the wanton destruction of ecologically sensitive lands, reckless treatment of workers, and the fundamental deterioration of living conditions. There is only one solution to this problem: the world needs more Canadian nickel.

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Vale Picks Mining Veteran Usmar to Lead Base Metals Turnaround – by Mariana Durao, Thomas Biesheuvel and Dinesh Nair (Bloomberg News – July 3, 2024)

(Bloomberg) — Vale SA has selected veteran mining executive Shaun Usmar to take the helm of its base metals division as the Brazilian metals producer seeks to boost copper and nickel production, according to people familiar with the matter.

The board of the Rio de Janeiro-based company chose Usmar to head Vale Base Metals, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The appointment has yet to be confirmed and it’s possible things could change, one of the people said.

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The Dirty, Deadly Price We Pay for Clean Cars – by Janet Paskin, Yang Yang, Naomi Ng and Jessica Beck (Bloomberg News – June 17, 2024)

(Bloomberg) — Never miss an episode. Follow The Big Take Asia podcast today.

Indonesia’s nickel business is booming. The metal is a key component in electric car batteries, but its success has a dark side. The country’s nickel mines and processing plants have a history of fatal accidents, with workers being run over by forklifts and burnt to death in smelter fires.

Today on The Big Take Asia, host Janet Paskin speaks with Bloomberg Businessweek editor Matt Campbell about his investigation into the mines. He found that nickel sourced from these plants are present in the supply chain that feeds virtually every major seller of EVs, and is an indispensable part of the car industry’s green revolution.

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EV transition drives Indonesia’s ‘dirty’ nickel boom – by A. Anantha Lakshmi (Financial Times – June 20, 2024)

Environmentalists accuse Jakarta of prioritising mining of key commodity over nation’s biodiverse rainforests

In just four years, Indonesia’s nickel industry has undergone a transformation — becoming a pivotal supplier of the commodity critical to electric vehicle batteries. But, as its importance grows, so has the south-east Asian nation’s reputation as a producer of “dirty” nickel.

Indonesia is now the world’s dominant supplier of the metal, following a boom triggered by President Joko Widodo’s ban on exports of raw nickel ore, in a bid to force foreign businesses to invest in the country and set up domestic processing plants.

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New Caledonia crisis: Does France fear China will dominate Pacific colonies? – by Christine Rovoi (Pacific Media Network – June 7, 2024)

If you think the French Empire – powerful in the 19th and 20th centuries – no longer exists, you may want to think again. Thirteen colonies fly the French flag and speak the French language today. Independence has not yet come to these territories, and New Caledonia is among them.

Located less than 2400km north of Aotearoa New Zealand, New Caledonia has a population of 272,000 (2019 Census) with 40 per cent the Indigenous Kanaks. The Pacific island nation is reeling from political unrest following the 13 May protests, led by pro-independence supporters, in the capital Noumēa last month.

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Metals expert warns of shortage of high-grade nickel near 2030 – by Erwida Maulia (Asia Nikkei – June 7, 2024)

Comes amid surging demand from EV battery producers

JAKARTA — Demand for the kind of high-grade nickel used to make electric vehicle batteries is set to outpace supply in the coming years, a metals expert said at an industry conference in Indonesia this week.

Allan Ray Restauro, a metals and mining analyst at energy researcher BloombergNEF, told the Indonesia Miner event in Jakarta that output of so-called Class 1 nickel is unlikely to accelerate rapidly enough to catch up with growing demand, even as production of lower-quality varieties of the metal surges.

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LME brand approval cements Indonesian nickel ascendancy – by Andy Home (Reuters – May 30, 2024)

LONDON, May 30 (Reuters) – The London Metal Exchange (LME) has approved the listing of the first ever Indonesian brand of refined nickel. “DX-zwdx” isn’t the most memorable of historical markers but the new brand’s inclusion on the LME good delivery list represents a watershed moment for the global industry.

Five years ago Indonesia produced just 600,000 metric tons of nickel and shipped most of it as unprocessed ore to China, where it was alloyed into stainless steel. Last year the country mined 2.03 million tons of contained metal, accounting for over half the world’s production.

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New Caledonia unrest pushes nickel sector deeper into crisis (France 24 – May 28, 2024)

Noumea (AFP) – Weeks of unrest in New Caledonia have plunged the archipelago’s nickel industry, already on government life support, closer to catastrophe, sector representatives say. The French Pacific territory is the world’s third-biggest producer of nickel, behind Indonesia and the Philippines, and ahead of Russia and Australia.

Nickel, a silver metal used as an alloy to make stainless steel, electronic components and jewellery, is also a key ingredient for electric vehicle batteries, making it critical for a transition towards cleaner energy.

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Indonesia buying record amounts of Philippine nickel ore due to quota delays, sources say (Reuters – May 29, 2024)

Indonesia has bought record volumes of nickel ore from the Philippines since April as smelter demand increases, while delays by Jakarta in issuing mining quotas and heavy rains have hurt local supply, people familiar with the matter said.

Indonesia’s nickel ore imports from the country likely hit around 500,000 metric tons in April and will again in May, more than double March volumes, two local smelters and a trader told Reuters. Such monthly totals would also top imports from the Philippines for all of last year which came in at 374,454 tons.

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Why a Small Pacific Island Territory Is Upending Nickel Prices – by Rishi Iyengar (Foreign Policy – May 21, 2024)


Violent riots in New Caledonia are having an outsized global impact on critical mineral supply chains.

The tiny Pacific island territory of New Caledonia entered its second week of deadly riots on Monday, with protesters blocking roads and shutting down the airport. At least six people have been killed so far, and dozens of businesses have been looted and burned, prompting France—which governs the archipelago—to impose a 12-day state of emergency.

New Caledonia has been under French control since 1853, and it voted to remain that way as recently as 2021 despite a growing pro-independence movement. However, that movement exploded into violence last week after France approved a constitutional amendment to the island territory’s voting rules that critics say will dilute the representation of the island’s Indigenous Kanak people.

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Behind New Caledonia’s Riots, a Fight Over Vast Reserves of Nickel – by Matthew Dalton and Sam Schechner (Wall Street Journal/ – May 20, 2024)

PARIS—Before riots swept New Caledonia last week, President Emmanuel Macron aimed to put the remote territory—and its massive reserves of nickel—at the center of France’s push to secure raw materials for the clean-energy transition and compete against China in manufacturing electric vehicles.

Those plans are colliding with a hard-line local political movement that seeks independence from France and is refusing to go along. The rioting exploded after lawmakers in Paris approved legislation to give more voting rights to New Caledonia’s nonindigenous population, diluting the influence of the native Kanak people.

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