Nickel is a crucial element used for several applications such as for making nickel steels, electroplating and superalloys. Increasing industrialization coupled with the infrastructure development has increased the demand for steel across the globe. Increasing demand for steel has swelled the demand for nickel mining. The mining industry has seen a growth that has resulted due to the increasing demand for minerals and metals from the different sectors of the economy coupled with the advancements in the mining technologies.
Nickel is a silvery-white lustrous metal. Due to its high reactivity with oxygen, nickel is mostly found in the interiors of large-iron meteorites. Nickel is used in wide range of applications due to its less corrosive nature and less ductility. Nickel is extracted for ores by roasting and reduction processes. The methods provides more than 70% purity, making it usable for production of stainless steel without further purifying it. However, stainless steels produced from it can’t be used for every applications. Pyrometallurgical technique is the most traditional technique for processing of most of the sulfide ores. The yield of nickel has been significantly improved by recent advancement in hydrometallurgical techniques. These process allows the production of nickel with the final concentration greater than 99%.
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On the basis of application, the global nickel mining market can be segmented into stainless steel, super magnets, electroplating chemicals, rechargeable batteries and others (coinage, microphone capsules and electric guitar components). Majority of the nickel produced across the globe is used for production of alloy steel such as nickel steel and nickel cast iron. Other alloys produced using nickels are alloys with chromium, lead, copper, gold, silver, cobalt, aluminum, nickel brasses and bronzes.
The global nickel mining market can be segmented on the basis of mining techniques into underground mining and open cast mining. The nickel ore mainly exists as pentlandite (sulfide ore) and the laterite. The Mining methods for nickel depend on the type of ore. Asia pacific is anticipated to dominate the global nickel mining market during the forecast period. Philippines, Indonesia and Australia are among the largest producer of nickel across the globe. Russia, Finland and Norway are among the major producers of nickel in Europe. Some of the other countries with significant nickel production are China, Canada, Brazil and Colombia.
Increasing industrialization in Asia Pacific has resulted in increasing demand for nickel. With several new industries in China and India coupled with infrastructure development is anticipated to increase the demand for nickel, driving the global nickel market during the forecast period. The high investment required for the purpose of mining and environmental considerations related to the mining activities are the main restraint to the global nickel mining market.The nickel mining market presents plenty of opportunities for the new entrants to enter the market and compete with the existing players.
Some of the key players in the global nickel mining market are Vale SA (Brazil), Rio Tinto Group (Australia), BHP Billiton plc (Australia), Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. (Japan), MMC Norilsk Nickel (Russia), Eramet SA (France), Jinchuan Group Ltd (China), Xstrata Plc (Anglo- Swiss) and Minara Resources Ltd. ( Australia) among others. Nickel mining companies are keen to increase their global market share through merger and acquisition.