Nickel is a vital element in stainless steel production and its use as a battery material is leading to growing demand.
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.1https://www.benchmarkminerals.com/membership/nickel-the-often-forgotten-battery-metal/,2https://nickelinstitute.org/about-nickel/nickel-in-batteries/
Supply Chain Risk
TDi assesses Nickel for key risks affecting the security of supply, and for its association with artisanal and small-scale mining.
Country Governance Risks
Nickel's association with countries experiencing:
Association with ESG issues
TDi Sustainability's data rates Nickel's association with the following issues as high or very high: