Archive | Nickel Laterites

JPMorgan Reaped $100 Million as China Squeezed Niche Nickel Market – by Alfred Cang, Jack Farchy and Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – March 11, 2020)

JPMorgan Chase & Co. made about $100 million trading nickel last year, according to people familiar with the situation, as it benefited from a price spike on the back of a Chinese-led supply squeeze.

The blowout year in nickel underscores JPMorgan’s growing dominance in a corner of the commodities markets that rivals have retreated. The bank has become the go-to financier for big deals in base metals, from the Chinese nickel purchases that sparked last year’s price surge, to hedging transactions for carmakers, which need the metal for electric-vehicle batteries. A spokesman for JPMorgan declined to comment.

Nickel, usually a niche market dominated by stainless steel mills, became the world’s hottest metal in 2019 when prices jumped by two-thirds in a matter of months. Continue Reading →

Ambatovy ‘exit’ will not affect nickel, cobalt output in Madagascar, Sherritt says ( – March 10, 2020)

Sherritt International Corp is to exit the Ambatovy joint venture in Madagascar, but its decision will not affect nickel or cobalt production at the mine, the Canadian company confirmed to Fastmarkets on Tuesday March 10.

The Canadian miner announced on February 26, 2019 that it would not fund its 12% stake in the Ambatovy JV, with Japan’s Sumitomo Corp and South Korea’s Korea Resources Corp (Kores), to protect Sherritt’s balance sheet after Ambatovy made a cash call to boost its short-term liquidity. Sherritt subsequently announced that it had become a defaulting shareholder on March 6, 2019.

First refusal to fund Sherritt’s 12% share in Ambatovy will now pass to Sumitomo and Kores, while Sherritt itself will lose voting rights and influence on operations at a local level as per the terms of a default under the shareholders agreement. Continue Reading →

Global nickel production to decline significantly in 2020 – Fitch Solutions – by Simone Liedike ( – March 6, 2020)

Research agency Fitch Solutions expects global nickel production to decrease significantly over the course of this year, as major producer Indonesia’s nickel ore export ban comes into effect.

The ban in Indonesia was announced in September 2019, bringing it forward to go into effect from January this year instead of January 2022. As a result, Fitch expects global nickel ore production to decrease by 60% year-on-year to 269-million tonnes this year.

This compares with the agency’s previous forecast of 15% growth in global nickel ore output this year. Production growth in the Philippines, where some currently suspended mines will become operational again as the country aims to plug the supply gap caused by the Indonesian export ban, will offset the lower Indonesian output to some extent. Continue Reading →

Tesla’s China surprise big blow for cobalt, nickel price bulls – by Frik Els ( – February 19, 2020)

Long-suffering cobalt bulls were dealt another blow on Wednesday after reports that the world’s largest electric carmaker is shifting some production of its most popular model away from batteries that contain nickel and cobalt.

In a surprise move, China’s top battery manufacturer CATL will supply Tesla with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries for its Model 3 production at its newly built $2 billion factory outside Shanghai.

The Model 3 is Tesla’s most popular, and the US-made version uses the company’s nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) cathode chemistry. Most other automakers favour nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) cathode chemistries. Continue Reading →

‘Transformation’ is in the air at Vale – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – February 12, 2020)

Electric vehicle market, carbon neutral plans, environmental safeguards part of Sudbury miner’s current and future operations

The thrust of Dino Otranto’s presentation was on the transformational challenges ahead for base metal mining giant Vale to create a business that’s sustainable in the Sudbury basin for generations to come.

But the opening image he flashed to a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce lunchtime crowd on Feb. 11 was of the Brumadinho tailings dam break at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine in Brazil on Jan. 25, 2019. It was the company’s second major dam breach in that country in four years.

The man-made environmental catastrophe at Brumadinho produced a toxic mudflow that swept away the company’s offices, and houses, farms and roads in a nearby village, and contaminated a major river system. Continue Reading →

Column: Virus another wild card in nickel’s year of uncertainty – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – February 11, 2020)

LONDON (Reuters) – Nickel is the weakest performer in the London Metal Exchange (LME) base metals pack so far this year. It’s a dramatic change of fortune after last year’s bull rally.

At a current $13,135 per tonne London nickel is down by almost 8% since the start of January and back to where it was last July, when Indonesia announced it was bringing forward a ban on the export of nickel ore from 2022 to this year.

The ban “remains a structurally bullish event”, according to analysts at Citi, given the flow of Indonesian ore to China accounts for around 12% of global mined nickel production. (“Nickel: it gets worse before it gets better, but still a medium-to-long term buy,” Feb. 5, 2020) Continue Reading →

Column: Nickel and copper are bull stand-outs in base metals poll – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – January 30, 2020)

LONDON (Reuters) – Nickel and copper are the bull stand-outs in the latest Reuters poll of base metals analysts, with both set to rise in price over the next two years thanks to supply constraints and expected market deficits.

All the other base metals are expected to fall in price this year at least, with zinc and lead set to underperform over the next two years as those markets transition from supply shortfall to surplus.

Supply is the clear differentiator in the poll findings. Demand is widely expected to recover from the synchronised weakness of 2019. Or at least it was. Continue Reading →

Thousands on virus lockdown at China-backed plant in Indonesia (Jakarta Post/Agence France-Presse – January 31, 2020)

More than 40,000 workers at a vast Chinese-controlled industrial complex in Indonesia have been quarantined over fears about the spread of a deadly coronavirus strain which has killed more than 200 people in China, it said Friday.

PT Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park has sealed off its nickel mining hub on Sulawesi island and is barring any of its 43,000 staff from entering or leaving without written permission.

There are some 5,000 guest workers from mainland China at the sprawling site which hosts nickel ore smelters and stainless steel production. Continue Reading →

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 →