We know that nickel in batteries has been part of the battery for decades. A battery has a cathode and an anode. The cathode and the anode (graphite) forms most of the battery. Nickel is a chemical element and a transition metal. It is mostly used for high-grade steel manufacturing, and increasingly so, in batteries.
In batteries, the commonly known product is lithium but graphite is more of a battery. As well as Lithium, cobalt and nickel, manganese is often used as well. Before lithium-ion battery technology, nickel was used as the anode with a Fe cathode. Now graphite is used as the anode, and nickel used in the cathode.
Modern EV batteries are based around lithium but nickel is used in the cathode as well.
Global production of nickel from mines was estimated to amount to a total of 2.5 million metric tons in 2020. The major countries in nickel mining include Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia, and New Caledonia. Indonesia is also the country with the largest reserves of nickel, followed by Australia and Brazil.
Nickel Production Data
Nickel reserves are among the metals and minerals with the least remaining life years, however, because nickel is a highly recyclable material, this poses less of a problem.
Leading nickel companies worldwide in 2020 based on production volume (‘000 T) from Statista
Nickel sulphide and laterite ore are used to make nickel metal for inclusion in steel for stainless stee, whereas Nickel sulphate used in batteries.
Nickel Demand Growth
The miners (such as IGO) use data from Bloomberg NEF to show the growth and expect nickel demand to increase by over 7 times. Nickel and lithium expected to be strong beneficiaries of increased battery demand.
Nickel is the 5th most common element and is traditionally used in making specialist steel alloys. 72% is used in stainless steel, and about 7% in batteries. See Nickel Institute.
- Indonesia – 21 million tonnes
- Australia – 20 million tonnes
- Brazil – 16 million tonnes
- Russia – 6.9 million tonnes
- Cuba – 5.5 million tonnes
- Philippines – 4.8 million tonnes
The shortage of nickel, and the Ukraine war has reduced supply from Russia. Globally, nickel supply does not meet existing demand, and many of the major miners are seeing their reserves come to the end of their lives.