Archive | Nickel Laterites

Cleantech’s next heat wave could come from Smarter Alloys – by Tyler Hamilton (Globe and Mail – April 18, 2018)

Tyler Hamilton works with cleantech companies from across Canada as an adviser with the non-profit MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.

When we burn fuel to power vehicles and machinery, drive industrial processes or generate electricity, most of the energy in this fuel is dumped into the atmosphere as heat.

In one 2016 study, German researchers estimated that 72 per cent of global primary energy consumption – that is, using coal, oil, natural gas and uranium as fuel – is lost as waste heat. Most of this heat is rated “low grade,” meaning it’s less than 100 C.

It includes the heat emitted from data centre server farms and the warm air that flows out the back of your kitchen refrigerator or air conditioner. Continue Reading →

FORECAST: EV nickel demand to surge tenfold by 2025, Vale says – by Millicent Dent (Metal – May 15, 2018)

Mass production of electric vehicles (EVs) will transform the nickel market, which must evolve from pricing and supply perspectives in order to meet the anticipated surge in demand.

“We’re already preparing [to enter the EV space] but we’re going to preserve optionality until it’s time and we can extract value,” Robert Morris, Vale’s executive vice president of sales and marketing for base metals, told Metal Bulletin.

Nickel prices are not nearly high enough to incentivize more production to come online. “If we want to supply this battery revolution with the appropriate nickel units, prices will have to be substantially higher,” he said, adding that it would likely take a couple of years for that to occur. Continue Reading →

Gov’t won’t lift ban on open-pit mining – by Madelaine B. Miraflor (Manila Bulletin – June 8, 2018)

t is now the job of mining companies to look for an alternative to open-pit mining method as ordered by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu — who, for the nth time, said the government is not keen to lift the ban on the destructive method.

“We have to reinvent mining in the Philippines or we will shut you down by the end of the year,” Cimatu told mining companies during the Philippine Mining Club Luncheon in Makati yesterday.

During the meeting, Cimatu said miners should prepare for a scenario where there is no longer open-pit mining in the country. “We will discuss what will be the alternative to this mining method,” Cimatu said. Continue Reading →

Sudbury Accent: Sudbury as the ‘Harvard’ of hardrock mining [Part 4 of 5] – by Stan Sudol (Sudbury Star – June 6, 2018)

The Sudbury Basin is Ontario’s metallic equivalent to the Alberta oils sands without the massive open pits as most of the mines historically have been underground. For 135 years, the region’s unique polymetallic ore-bodies have produced nickel, copper and significant quantities of cobalt, gold, silver and platinum group metals (PGMs).

It is the third largest source of PGMs after South Africa and Russia. Many multi-generational families earn good middle-class salaries in the many mines, two mills, two smelters and one refinery. Roughly 30 per cent of provincial mining activity takes place in Sudbury, according to the Ontario Mining Association.

Glencore’s recent C$900 million investment in the development of its Onaping Depth project and Vale’s C$760 million phase one development of its Copper Cliff Deep mine are indications of growing confidence in the future of the region. Continue Reading →

What Does Northern Ontario Want From Queen’s Park? – by Stan Sudol ( – May 31, 2018)

Northern Ontario Being Strangled

On June 7th, the people of Ontario will be going to the polls in one of the most pivotal elections in the province’s history. While Northern Ontario – north of the French and Mattawa Rivers, as I have never recognized the Parry Sound and Muskoka ridings as being part of the North – encompasses roughly 90 per cent of the province’s land mass, its population has been steadily declining to slightly over five per cent of Ontario’s total.

Unfortunately, our impact on provincial policies is almost negligible.

A buck a beer, cheaper gas, tax breaks combined with unaffordable infrastructure and social commitments, twinning the trans-Canada in Northern Ontario, buying back Hydro One, and jumping on a bulldozer to start building the road into the Ring of Fire are part of a bevy of mostly worthy but unsustainable promises Conservative Doug Ford, Liberal Kathleen Wynne and NDP Andrea Horwath have made.

However, I seldom hear any actual policy initiatives to grow the economy and create wealth so we can afford all these election initiatives and perhaps, just perhaps put a little money on our provincial debt which has more than doubled during the past 15 years under the McGuinty/Wynne Liberal era from about $138 billion in 2003/04 to $325 billion currently and growing. By the way, this is the largest sub-national debt in the world and twice as large as California which has a population of almost 40 million. We are paying roughly $1 billion a month to service that debt. That will surely rise when interest rates, which are at historic lows, eventually start going up! Continue Reading →

Commentary: Nickel’s star performance underpinned by old and new drivers – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – May 21, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – Nickel is turning out to be the star performer of the major industrial metals so far this year. True, the London Metal Exchange (LME) price has retreated from April’s three-year high of $16,690 as panic that U.S. sanctions on Russia might be extended to Norilsk Nickel has dissipated.

But at a current $14,650 per tonne, LME three-month nickel is still up 16 percent on the start of the year. Tin, the second strongest performer among the LME base metals pack, is up by just two percent.

In China the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) contract largely ignored London’s Russian jitters but has also just notched up its highest trading level in three years. Both London and Shanghai markets are being buoyed by falling visible inventory, which is reinforcing a bullish narrative of supply shortfall. Continue Reading →

Vale Boss Prefers Giving Away Windfall to Avoid Sins of the Past – by R.T. Watson and Joseph Richter (Bloomberg News – May 18, 2018)

Vale SA, once the most generous dividend payer among major mining companies, may be poised to regain that status with its chief executive officer nearing debt targets and unwilling to hoard cash or rush into deals.

Like others in the industry, the biggest producer of iron ore and nickel cut dividends to defend against a commodity downturn that eroded profit and pushed up debt metrics.

With prices recovering as supply gluts ease, producers are once again rewarding shareholders. In March, Vale approved a plan to begin paying at least 30 percent of earnings before items minus sustaining investments. For the first quarter, that meant $1 billion. Continue Reading →

‘The river is dead’: is a mine polluting the water of Brazil’s Xikrin tribe? – by Naira Hofmeister and José Cícero da Silva (The Guardian – May 15, 2018)

Federal courts are battling to shut down a nickel mining plant said to be contaminating the Cateté river – a charge the company denies

The Xikrin, who have lived alongside the Cateté river in the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil for centuries, have a mantra: “The river is our life.” Surrounded by an abundance of plant species, they swim and bathe here.

To fish, the tribe use timbó, a toxic vine that reduces the concentration of oxygen in the water, forcing the fish to come to the surface, where they are shot with arrows. “If we use hooks to fish, only one of our families will eat fish,” explains former tribal chief Onkray Xikrin. “But with timbó the whole village can eat.”

But the River Cateté is dying, and with it the way of life of the Xikrin. In 2010 Mineração Onça Puma, a company owned by the mining company Vale, began extracting nickel in the nearby hills, which have tributaries flowing into the Cateté. Vale is one of the world’s largest producers of nickel. Continue Reading →

Scotiabank’s Metals Market Outlook Q2 update: NICKEL: MUCH NEEDED SUPPLY DEFICITS REDUCING EXCESS STOCKS (May 10, 2018)

The nickel market is still trying to find its way after a decade of surplus (chart 7) pushed prices down from a peak of $25/lb in 2007 to $3.50/lb in early 2016, with prices currently trading around $6.25/lb. Nickel demand has outpaced supply since last year, but the market will require multi-year deficits to draw down the significant glut of excess metal that has been built up in the storage sheds of global exchanges.

While supply shortages have reduced exchange-listed inventory levels by more than 30% since early 2016, stocks still represent more than 70 days of global nickel demand compared to sister base metals: aluminium at 13 days, copper at 11 days, and zinc at 7 days (chart 8).

Nickel prices are expected to gradually move higher over the next half decade as inventories normalize, averaging $6.00/lb in 2018 and $6.50/lb in 2019. Nickel prices are undeniably benefitting from a recent sentiment boost related to feverish EV forecasts, with many viewing nickel as one of the primary beneficiaries of the battery industry build out alongside other metals more commonly associated with the electric revolution like copper, cobalt, and lithium. Continue Reading →

Stainless steel glut builds in China as Indonesia ups output – by Maytaal Angel (Reuters U.S. – May 3, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – An abundance of stainless steel in China following the ramp up of new production in Indonesia is threatening stainless mills globally and the nickel producers that supply them.

Marking a major structural shift, China, which makes and consumes around half of the world’s stainless, became a marginal net importer of hot-rolled stainless coil in December for the first time in more than seven years, data from the International Steel Statistics Bureau and from consultants CRU showed.

This is after Chinese-owned stainless giant Tsingshan started production last August at a giant plant in Indonesia that should, by the end of 2018, have an annual capacity of 3 million tonnes.This is equivalent to 6 percent of last year’s global flat stainless capacity, CRU says, and there is more to come, with China’s Delong Holdings set to start production at its Indonesian stainless plant in 2019. Continue Reading →

‘Political noise’: Canadian miner hopes for business as usual after the Castros’ long rule ends – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – May 1, 2018)

‘There’s still lots of ore in Cuba. We fully expect to be in the nickel business in Cuba for many years to come’

After years of paying down debt and restructuring its operations, a new question mark hangs over Toronto-based Sherritt International Corp: whether the leadership change in Cuba will affect its extensive nickel, cobalt and energy operations located within the tropical island nation.

Sherritt refers to itself as Cuba’s largest foreign investor, and derives most of its revenues from operations there.

Now, as Cuba heads into its first full month in a half-century without a Castro in the presidency — having elected Miguel Diaz-Canel on April 19 — Sherritt has much to lose or gain from any changes in policy or economic reform. Publicly, chief executive David Pathe, who visits Cuba at least a half dozen times every year, is playing down the significance of the transition. Continue Reading →

Nickel Fundamentals Come Back to the Fore – by Stuart Burns (Metal Miner – April 30, 2018)

As my colleague Fouad Egbaria wrote last week, the U.S. administration’s relaxation of the timescale for implementation of sanctions against Rusal has had the effect of taking the panic out of the market.

As a result, prices have fallen for several days, not just for aluminum but for other metals that the market feared could face the same threat — most notably nickel, in which Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has an interest. But the vagaries of Washington policy aside, the underlying fundamentals for the nickel market remain firm.

Reuters reports that according to the International Nickel Study Group, world stainless steel melting production rose by 5.8% last year, while projecting that global nickel production and usage is expected to rise to 2.344 million tons (MT) in 2018. Continue Reading →

Vale not happy with nickel prices – by Staff (Sudbury Star – April 30, 2018)

Vale officials say they have confidence in the nickel market in the long run, but for now they aren’t happy with the metal’s prices. In December, Vale dialed back nickel output forecasts for the next five years even as it praised the metal’s future prospects.

Last week, Reuters reported Vale was curbing base metal production to boost returns, though the world’s biggest nickel producer hopes the area will one day represent a greater part of earnings.

Vale executives said they hoped to find a partner for the struggling New Caledonia nickel mine by the end of the year, but it was not clear whether the world’s largest nickel producer would continue nickel operations there, Reuters said. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Vale eyes $1 bln in dividends each quarter this year (Reuters U.K. – April 26, 2018)

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 26 (Reuters) – Vale SA, the world’s top iron ore producer, expects iron ore prices no lower than $70 per tonne this year and will hand out $1 billion in dividends each quarter this year if conditions remain similar ahead, executives said on Thursday.

The dividend policy “was constructed to work in any price scenario. That means this policy is here to stay,” Chief Executive Officer Fabio Schvartsman said on a conference call, adding that a $1 billion dividend payout was already guaranteed for the second quarter.

The comments came a day after Vale reported a first-quarter slide in profit of 36 percent on higher costs and lower iron ore prices. Vale still promised a minimum payout of $1 billion in dividends for the quarter to be paid later this year. Continue Reading →

BATTERY MATERIALS CONF: Nickel intermediates can fill class one supply gap – Vale – by Charlotte Radford (Metal – April 26, 2018)

Nickel intermediates could provide the most cost-effective means of bringing on-stream additional class one nickel units to serve the growing battery market, according to Frank Nikolic, head of base metals intelligence at Vale.

Nickel demand from the battery sector could increase to 1.8 million tonnes by 2030 from 700,000 tonnes by 2025, according to Vale’s upside forecast. Its more conservative forecast suggests demand of 350,000 tonnes in 2025 and of 1 million tonnes by 2030.

“Can the nickel market respond to such massive demand drivers? Look at intermediates – it’s something that is going to serve the market,” Nikolic said at Metal Bulletin’s inaugural Battery Materials conference in Shanghai last week. Continue Reading →