Nickel is a vital element in stainless steel production and its use as a battery material is leading to growing demand.

Nickel (Ni)

Nickel is most-commonly used as an alloying element in stainless steel. It has also long been used in batteries, and its use in newer battery types is expected to stimulate increased demand. Indonesia is the world’s largest producer, followed by the Philippines, Russia, the French territory of New Caledonia, and Australia.

Published reports on ESG issues in nickel production typically focus on Russia, where production – some of which still occurs at aging Soviet-era facilities – has been linked to serious incidents of pollution. There are also sporadic reports of environmental and social issues concerning nickel production in jurisdictions such as New Caledonia, Indonesia, and Madagascar.

Main Uses and Attributes

More than two thirds of global nickel production is used to produce stainless steel. As an alloying element, nickel enhances its important properties such as formability, weldability and ductility, while increasing corrosion resistance in certain applications. Nickel is often used as an ‘undercoat’ for other coatings, such as chromium.

Nickel has long been widely used in batteries, most commonly in nickel cadmium (NiCd) and in the longer-lasting nickel metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries. Two of the most commonly-used types of batteries, Nickel Cobalt Aluminium (NCA) and Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC), typically use 80 percent and 33 percent nickel respectively. Most Li-ion batteries now rely on nickel. It is widely expected that the ratio of nickel used in EV  batteries will increase over the long-term, thereby driving increased demand for the material.1,2

Main Uses

  • Batteries
  • Cars
  • Magnets
  • Steel

Key Industries

  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Energy
  • Petrochemicals

Key Countries

Top Producer Indonesia
Top Reserves Indonesia

Supply Chain Risk

TDi assesses Nickel for key risks affecting the security of supply, and for its association with artisanal and small-scale mining.

Overall Supply Chain Resilience Risk
Strength of Association with ASM
Very Low Moderate Very High

Country Governance Risks

Nickel's association with countries experiencing:

Violence and Conflict
Weak Rule of Law
Poor Human Rights
Poor Environmental Governance
Very Low Moderate Very High

Association with ESG issues

TDi Sustainability's data rates Nickel's association with the following issues as high or very high:

Indigenous Peoples Rights
Negative Biodiversity and Conservation Impact
Degraded/Fragmented Landscape
Very Low Moderate Very High

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