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

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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/MSN.com – May 20, 2024)

https://www.msn.com/

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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Nickel, guns and foreign powers: How France’s New Caledonia reached the brink of ‘civil war’ (Politico.eu – May 16, 2024)

https://www.politico.eu/

Violent protests have erupted in France’s South Pacific archipelago as decades-old tensions come to a head.

PARIS — Nickel-rich New Caledonia could have been France’s Eldorado. Instead, it has once again turned into a security time bomb. Ongoing violent protests in the French overseas territory in the South Pacific, which have already led to the death of five people around the Caledonian capital of Nouméa, have put the French government on high alert.

President Emmanuel Macron canceled several official events to hold emergency meetings, and declared a state of emergency giving the executive branch more powers to keep the situation under control. “The situation remains very tense,” French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal warned Thursday following a new emergency meeting, after the local representative for the French state said a “civil war” was imminent.

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Stellantis in talks with Vale to invest in Indonesian nickel smelter – by A. Anantha Lakshi and Harry Dempsey (Financial Times – May 13, 2024)

https://www.ft.com/

Deal would bring rare western investor to world’s biggest producer of commodity critical to electric cars

Stellantis is in talks with Vale and China’s Huayou Cobalt to invest in a nickel smelter in Indonesia and secure supplies of the battery metal critical to its electric vehicle expansion plans, in a deal that if finalised would bring a rare western investor into Indonesia’s nickel industry.

Stellantis, owner of the Peugeot, Fiat and Jeep brands, is in discussions with Vale Indonesia to invest in a high-pressure acid leaching plant that converts low-grade nickel ore to battery-grade metal, three people familiar with the matter said.

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Nickel 28 fires founders on ‘serious misconduct’ that they deny – by Jacob Lorinc (Bloomberg News – May 6, 2024)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

Nickel 28 Capital Corp. said it has fired its founders, including chief executive officer Anthony Milewski, after an investigation uncovered “serious misconduct” — claims the ousted management team says are untrue and part of a years-long battle for control at the Canadian mining firm.

The nickel and cobalt producer removed Milewski, along with president Justin Cochrane and chief financial officer Conor Kearns, with immediate effect, it said Monday, after the board reviewed findings made by an independent special committee. The investigation found evidence the management team had breached their duties and repeatedly lacked judgment, the board said.

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Without Indonesia’s Nickel, EVs Have No Future in America – by Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan (Foreign Policy – May 1, 2024)

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The IRA and Senate opposition to a free trade deal with Jakarta are undermining the United States’ green transition.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan is Indonesia’s coordinating minister of maritime and investment affairs.

Without Indonesian nickel, the United States’ electric vehicle market will flounder. My nation sits on the world’s largest reserves of the metal that is central to EV batteries. In 2023, Indonesia exported over half the world’s nickel products. In the coming years, this share is projected to grow.

Yet some members of the U.S. Congress, working together with Indonesia’s foreign competitors, have resolved to stymie the import of refined nickel from my country. So far, they are succeeding. But when taken together with measures passed in March compelling companies to shift away from selling gas-powered vehicles, it is ultimately U.S. auto workers who will lose out.

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US, Philippines Eye Partnership to Cut China’s Nickel Dominance – by Peter Martin and Jennifer Jacobs (Bloomberg News – April 30, 2024)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. and the Philippines are in discussions over ways to prevent China from dominating nickel processing in the Southeast Asian nation, a key supplier of the metal that’s crucial for electric vehicle batteries.

One measure under consideration is a trilateral arrangement through which the Philippines would supply raw nickel material, the U.S. would provide financing, and a third country such as Japan, South Korea or Australia would offer the technology required for smelting and refining, according to people familiar with the matter.

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First Quantum to shut Ravensthorpe nickel mine – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Northern Miner – April 29, 2024)

https://www.northernminer.com/

Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM) has decided to close its Ravensthorpe nickel operation in Western Australia. The ceasing of operations at the mine this week will cut around 330 jobs, Australia’s ABC News reported on Monday, citing a company statement.

“Despite our best efforts to maintain operations by transitioning to a new operating strategy that involved ceasing mining activities, processing stockpiles and altering its approach to production, the site is incurring significant current and projected losses,” First Quantum said in a separate statement.

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INSG’s latest forecasts cold comfort for nickel producers – by Andy Home (Reuters – April 25, 2024)

https://www.reuters.com/

London, April 25 (Reuters) – Nickel has rallied hard this month, clawing back some of the territory lost during its relentless price slide over the course of 2023. London Metal Exchange (LME) three-month nickel touched $19,775 per metric ton on Monday, the highest it has traded since September last year.

Last at $19,045 per ton, nickel is up by 15% since the start of the year, the third strongest performance after tin and copper. Sentiment has improved as low prices have exacted a rising toll on nickel producers. Multiple operators have closed or curtailed capacity due to the rapid rise of lower-cost Indonesian production.

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The nickel price crash and the road to recovery in Australia – by Annabel Cossins-Smith (Mining Technology – April 23, 2024)

https://www.mining-technology.com/

Miners in Australia are feeling the brunt of the global nickel price crash, from mine closures to forecast reductions and government intervention. How did things get so bad and is recovery possible? Annabel Cossins-Smith investigates.

The global nickel market has been volatile for years now. The price rollercoaster of 2022 saw prices for the metal soar, plummet and then soar again in the space of eight months. This instability prompted the London Metal Exchange (LME) to suspend nickel trading altogether in March 2022, when global prices initially rallied more than 250% in one day, and later to begin “enhanced monitoring” of nickel to ensure trading activity was fair and to prevent market distortion.

More recently, the nickel market has experienced an unprecedented, drawn-out price slump that has put operations around the world – and particularly in Australia – in jeopardy. A significant oversupply of cheap, low-grade nickel pig iron (NPI) coming almost entirely from China and Indonesia, is the key cause of the price slump. Combined, the two countries produce around 70% of the world’s nickel. Indonesia alone accounted for roughly half of global production in 2023, which is expected to rise significantly by the end of the decade.

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Chinese Nickel Billionaire Boosts Australian Miner in Indonesia – by Eddie Spence and Alfred Cang (Bloomberg News – April 22, 2024)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg) — A little-known Australian company is becoming the Western face of a Chinese nickel behemoth. In under a decade, Nickel Industries Ltd. has gone from a relatively small miner to the world’s sixth-biggest producer of a metal used in products from batteries to stainless steel.

Riding a Chinese-led boom in Indonesia’s nickel sector, it owns or has stakes in five plants in the country that churn out more of the commodity than household names like BHP Group Ltd.

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Indonesia’s grand ambition to become an EV leader rests on nickel mining boom – by Yvonne Lau (Canada’s National Observer – April 19, 2024)

https://www.nationalobserver.com/

The Kawasi people of Indonesia’s Obi Islands have long fished for tuna, red snapper and grouper, and grown coconut, cashew and clove trees. But some village residents say their land and water have been destroyed and the quality of life has plummeted in the years since Harita Nickel, the $5-billion arm of Indonesian conglomerate Harita Group, started mining, refining and processing nickel in their backyard.

“We lost our plantation land to grow crops for our survival and future generations. We lost the right to express our opinions. The water has become cloudy, with white foam coming out of the pipes. We see that the fish are dying. Residents are now being monitored for skin diseases, coughing and sore eyes,” according to 36-year-old Nurhayati Jumadi, a mother of two and lifelong resident of Kawasi village with about 4,500 people.

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New Sanctions on Russia to Drive Even More Metals Sales to China – by Alfred Cang (Bloomberg News – April 15, 2024)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

US and UK sanctions on Russian metals will cement China as Moscow’s buyer of last resort for key commodities, and enhance Shanghai’s role as a venue to set prices for materials crucial to the global economy.

The London Metal Exchange’s ban on newly produced Russian aluminum, copper and nickel is likely to drive Chinese imports even higher. It also leaves the Shanghai Futures Exchange as the only major commodities bourse in the world to accept Russian shipments of the three metals.

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Glencore-backed nickel miner fails to secure financing after rising costs – by Harry Dempsey (Financial Times – April 15, 2024)

https://www.ft.com/

Horizonte Minerals looking at sale of Brazilian nickel mine as investors fear Indonesia is flooding the market

Glencore-backed Horizonte Minerals has failed to secure financing to complete its nickel mine in Brazil following soaring costs and rising investor concern that Indonesia is flooding the market for the electric vehicle battery and steelmaking ingredient.

The London-listed group said in a statement on Monday that it was now exploring a sale, liquidation, or raising financing at the subsidiary level, following an 87 per cent increase in the estimated cost to build the Araguaia nickel mine, to more than $1bn.

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Japan, U.S., Philippines to strengthen nickel supply chains – by Takeru Tsuzuki and Hiroyuki Tanaka (Asia News Network – April 15, 2024)

 Asia News Network – Bringing Asia Closer

The three countries will accelerate the creation of a supply chain that is not overly dependent on China to bolster their economic security, with the Philippines being the world’s second-largest producer of nickel ore.

WASHINGTON – Japan, the United States and the Philippines agreed to forge ties to strengthen supply chains of nickel — a critical mineral essential for the batteries used in electric vehicles — at a trilateral summit at the White House on Thursday.

The Philippines is the world’s second-largest producer of nickel ore, and China is the second-largest producer of refined nickel. The three countries will accelerate the creation of a supply chain that is not overly dependent on China to bolster their economic security.

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