Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile. Pure nickel shows a significant chemical activity that can be observed when nickel is powdered to maximize the exposed surface area on which reactions can occur, but larger pieces of the metal are slow to react with air at ambient conditions due to the formation of a protective oxide surface.
The use of nickel (as a natural meteoric nickel–iron alloy) has been traced as far back as 3500 BC. Nickel was first isolated and classified as a chemical element in 1751 by Axel Fredrik Cronstedt, who initially mistook its ore for a copper mineral. The element name comes from a mischievous sprite of German miner's mythology, Nickel (similar to Old Nick), that personified the fact that copper-nickel ores resisted refinement into copper.
Because of nickel's slow rate of oxidation at room temperature, it is considered corrosion-resistant. Historically this has led to its use for plating metals such as iron and brass, to its use for chemical apparatus, and its use in certain alloys that will retain a high silvery polish, such as German silver.
The global nickel market is entering a period of flux as two distinct commodity segments emerge: nickel used in the fast-growing rechargeable battery market – in particular for electric vehicles (EVs) – and nickel for the traditional stainless-steel market, dominated by ferronickel and nickel pig iron (NPI). This shift presents a set of opportunities and threats that will require mining companies, battery manufacturers, and car OEMs to reevaluate their strategies.
Nickel prices are set to unwind in coming years as fundamentals loosen on the back of increased supply from Indonesia and subdued demand from China.
The number one producer of Nickel, Philippines had an output of 500,000 MT in 2016 - 55,000 MT less than it was in 2015.
Indonesia is expected to have the fastest refined nickel output growth rates from 2017-2021, increasing its total production from 43 kt in 2017 to 50 kt in 2021.