Report: French nickel sector in danger of collapse – by Annabel Cossins-Smith (Mining Technology – August 3, 2023)

The report analyses the long-term negative results of three of France’s major metals corporations operating in New Caledonia.

France’s nickel production sector is at risk of collapse and must be refinanced and restructured to meet EU critical raw materials independence goals, a new government report warns.

The report, published on Tuesday, analyses the long-term negative performance of three of France’s most significant metals corporations operating in New Caledonia, a French territory off the east coast of Australia that is home to approximately 10% of the world’s nickel supply. Société Le Nickel, majority state-owned Koniambo Nickel and Prony Resources Nouvelle-Calédonie are all at risk of falling further behind their Indonesian and Chinese competitors.

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Indonesia defends its curbs on nickel ore exports amid EU claim of breach in international trade – by Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja (Straits Times – August 3, 2023)

JAKARTA – Indonesia has stepped up its defence of its nickel ore export curbs the European Union has protested against, asserting its right to enhance value addition, boost its economy, and create job opportunities by climbing the value chain.

Indonesia claims it is doing what is necessary to develop its electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem, while the EU claims the nation rich in natural resources has breached rules by restricting international trade. South-east Asia’s largest economy, which was the world’s top exporter of nickel ore, introduced the ban on Jan 1, 2020.

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Nickel’s at a Crossroads as Supply Boom Hits LME, Macquarie Says – by Jack Farchy (Bloomberg News – July 21, 2023)

(Bloomberg) — The nickel market is at a “turning point” with a wave of supply of the battery metal about to hit the London Metal Exchange and push down prices, according to strategists at Macquarie Group Ltd.

The nickel market has become increasingly disconnected since the huge short squeeze that roiled the market last year, as surging production of the most widely used forms of nickel drives those prices lower, while the refined metal traded on the LME is in much tighter supply.

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A battery supply chain that excludes China looks impossible (The Economist – July 17, 2023)

Green industrial policy and hawkish security policies are clashing

“I’d like to get all the gas emissions off the highways of the world,” said John Goodenough, one of the Nobel prize-winning scientists who developed the lithium-ion battery four decades ago, during an interview in 2018.

Goodenough died on June 25th before his dream could become reality. But governments around the world are scrambling to make it so, with remarkable results. Global sales of electric cars quintupled between 2019 and 2022, surpassing 10m units last year.

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The rush for nickel: ‘They are destroying our future’ – by Valdya Baraputri (BBC News Indonesia – July 9, 2023)

Two men are carrying torches and homemade arrows as they slip into the ocean at night on an Indonesian island. They are from an indigenous community of Bajau people – renowned freedivers who find it better to hunt in the dark when fish, lobsters and sea cucumbers are less active.

But they fear time is running out for their traditional way of life. “Right now, the water is still clear,” says Tawing, one of the fishermen. “But it won’t stay that way… nickel waste enters our water during the rainy season and the current carries it here.”

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New technology could cement Indonesia’s dominance of vital nickel (The Economist – July 5, 2023)

But harvesting the crucial metal will be bad news for the country’s rainforests

Each year scientists discover an average of five new bird species. In 2013, on a trip to a remote set of islands in Indonesia, researchers found ten in six weeks—the biggest haul in more than a century.

The region in question, known as Wallacea after Alfred Russel Wallace, a 19th-century naturalist, is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. Its rainforests host creatures found nowhere else, such as the maleo, an endangered bird that uses sunlit beaches and geothermal heat to keep its eggs warm rather than incubating them itself.

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How China Came to Dominate the World’s Largest Nickel Source for Electric Cars – by Jon Emont (Wall Street Journal – July 5, 2023)

Chinese firms mastered a process that unlocked Indonesia’s ore for use in making EV batteries

Across the Indonesian archipelago, new industrial plants are going up to process chunks of nickel ore for use in electric-car batteries. Five years ago, there were none. What changed? Chinese companies had a breakthrough.

They tamed a refining process that was once unwieldy, unlocking Indonesia’s expansive deposits for the nickel-hungry EV industry. In doing so, they established Chinese dominance over what has grown into the world’s largest source of the commodity.

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Indonesia’s coal burning hits record high — and ‘green’ nickel is largely why – by Hans Nicholas Jong ( – July 3, 2023)

JAKARTA — Indonesia burned more coal in 2022 than any other year, a preliminary analysis shows, putting the country on track to become one of the largest carbon emitters from fossil fuel in the world.

Data from the Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources showed that coal consumption amounted to 745.72 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) in 2022, a 33% increase from 558.78 million BOE in 2021. The data shows the country’s coal consumption to be the highest ever by a very large margin.

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Column: Court case shines a harsh light on London Metal Exchange – by Andy Home (Reuters – June 25, 2023)

The first part of the London Metal Exchange’s (LME) courtroom drama is over after three days of legal argument at London’s Royal Courts of Justice. The LME, owned by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, now awaits judgment on whether its cancellation of nickel trades on March 8 last year was lawful.

US-based hedge fund Elliott Associates and market maker Jane Street Global Trading (Jane Street) argue its action was unlawful and are demanding $472 million in damages. The 146-year-old exchange contends it was justified in closing the market and cancelling trades because $19.7 billion of margin calls would otherwise have triggered a “death spiral” of member defaults.

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Saudi’s PIF emerges as lead bidder for $2.5 billion Vale base metals stake – by Staff ( – June 20, 2023)

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is leading the bid to acquire a $2.5 billion stake in Vale’s nickel and copper operations, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday.

The report said PIF might strike the deal for a roughly 10% stake through a joint venture it set up in January with Ma’aden, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

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The World’s Most Feared Investor Heads for Showdown With the LME – by Jack Farchy, Mark Burton and Jonathan Browning (Bloomberg News – June 17,2023)

(Bloomberg) — A decade ago, Paul Singer did battle with the government of Argentina — and won. Next week, the notoriously pugnacious hedge fund boss is taking on a bastion of the City of London, the 146-year-old London Metal Exchange.

For Singer, the case is personal, say several people familiar with the matter. When on March 8 last year the LME decided to cancel billions of dollars in nickel trades as prices skyrocketed, Singer was appalled and affronted, seeing it as a perversion of the free market with few precedents in the modern history of finance.

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Red floods near giant Indonesia nickel mine blight farms and fishing grounds – by Riza Salman – June 14, 2023)

KOLAKA, Indonesia — Ansal grabbed a makeshift raincoat, an empty rice sack, and ran home as the rain began to pound the fields of Pomalaa. A few hours later, after the rain stopped, the 49-year-old returned to his fields. “Everything is red,” Ansal told Mongabay Indonesia, here in Kolaka district in the province of Southeast Sulawesi.

In previous years, the occasional floods were more manageable, but this downpour caused the river to burst its banks. The ensuing overflow caked Ansal’s field in a layer of knee-deep sludge, drowning the newly planted rice under water the color of clay.

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RPT-COLUMN-Nickel prices coming supply glut but stocks keep falling – by Andy Home (June 7, 2023)

LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) – Nickel has been the under-performer of the London Metal Exchange (LME) base metals pack this year. LME three-month nickel sank to a nine-month low of $20,310 per tonne last week and at a current $21,500 is now down by 31% since the start of the year.

Nickel is pricing in a looming supply glut as Indonesia builds out ever more production capacity in its race to be an electric vehicle battery metals giant. The country’s mined output grew by 48% last year and by another 41% in the first three months of this year, according to The International Nickel Study Group.

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EV Makers Confront the ‘Nickel Pickle’ – by Jon Emont (Wall Street Journal – June 4, 2023)

Large amounts of the mineral are needed for electric car batteries, but getting it out of the ground and refining it often requires clearing rainforests and generating large amounts of carbon

In the electric-vehicle business, the quandary is known as the nickel pickle. To make batteries for EVs, companies need to mine and refine large amounts of nickel. The process of getting the mineral out of the ground and turning it into battery-ready substances, though, is particularly environmentally unfriendly.

Reaching the nickel means cutting down swaths of rainforest. Refining it is a carbon-intensive process that involves extreme heat and high pressure, producing waste slurry that’s hard to dispose of.

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OPINION: Mining companies need to look at new ways to reduce biodiversity impacts – by Tom Drabble (Benchmark – May 22, 2023)

Critical mineral deposits crucial to the clean energy transition can be found across the globe. As mining companies cannot control where geological deposits form, they are forced to tackle whatever challenges are present in the location of which they are found. One of the largest challenges within the environmental “E” of ESG is how to prevent biodiversity loss due to company operations.

It is crucial that biodiversity is considered and appropriately monitored at all stages, from acquisition through to mine closure and rehabilitation. Strategies for biodiversity management of a mine site should begin with an environmental impact assessment and mitigation strategies and targets set.

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