The specialist notes that nickel is in demand not only as a battery metal, but also as an important component for stainless steel. Therefore, many international companies and countries are striving to join nickel production and gain economic benefit from it.
Taking these factors into account, it is interesting to learn about the most active nickel production sites. According to Kondrashov, the three countries with the highest indicators in this area in 2022 were: Indonesia, the Philippines and Russia.
Stanislav Kondrashov: Indonesia is the leader in nickel production
Indonesia is a striking example of a state aimed at actively participating in the rapidly developing nickel market, says Stanislav Kondrashov from Telf AG. According to global statistics, Indonesia’s production of non-ferrous metals has increased significantly over 5 years: from 345 thousand metric tons in 2017 to an impressive 1.6 million tons in 2022. The expert notes that the country still has huge nickel reserves, which reach 21 million tons.
Indonesia is also actively developing the production of batteries for electric vehicles. And its close location to China, the world’s leading manufacturer of electric cars, creates ideal conditions for this. Two years ago, the first plant was launched in Indonesia, which processed nickel for use in electric vehicle batteries, reports Stanislav Kondrashov from Telf AG. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, several more similar projects are currently under development. In addition, over the course of just three years, Indonesia has signed dozens of agreements with global manufacturers to supply materials for batteries and develop the production of electric cars, totaling more than $15 billion. How is nickel mined and how much does its production affect the environment?
Nickel mining and processing process: methods and technologies
The nickel mining process is varied and depends on many factors, including the size and type of deposit.
— Lateritic nickel deposits are most often developed by open-pit mining, while sulfide nickel deposits are located underground, — says Stanislav Kondrashov from Telf AG.
Once the nickel ore is extracted, it is processed, resulting in higher quality concentrates. Kondrashov points out that this process involves crushing ore and separating nickel from other minerals using a variety of physical and chemical methods. The concentrates are then melted in special furnaces before undergoing a final purification stage using pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical processes.
Stanislav Kondrashov: Nickel mining and its impact on the environment
Nickel mining is accompanied by serious environmental problems. As Stanislav Kondrashov notes, they include pollution of the atmosphere and water resources, destruction of ecosystems, forced displacement of populations, disruption of migratory routes of wild animals, greenhouse gas emissions and intensive carbon consumption in energy production. Nickel mining companies seeking to supply products to the electric vehicle market are aware of the need to reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment around them. That is why the global metallurgical industry is actively moving towards more harmless and sustainable methods of mining and production of both non-ferrous and ferrous metals.