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Strategic importance of nickel: scenarios and perspectives aimed at global supply

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2013, Vol. 334, No. 1, pp. 510-518

Nieto, A.; Montaruli, V.; Cardu, M.


Nickel is a metal whose workability and mechanical strength at high temperatures and in corrosive environments makes it an indispensable alloying element for the realization of stainless steel, specialty steel, super-alloys, rechargeable batteries and electroplating. Because its main fields of application are key to the development of industry and, thus, to society, nickel has recently been recognized as a potentially critical mineral, despite its abundant reserves. The purpose of this paper is the creation of possible case scenarios determined by factors and events that, in the medium to long term, could change the current structure of the nickel market on the demand and/or the supply side. Four scenarios have been determined by considering a demand variation due to the occurrence of a natural disaster and an aerospace plan implementation and taking into account the resource nationalism and the skills shortage as supply varying factors. Through the creation of a georeferenced global nickel database, the paper proposes supply strategies related to the four scenarios for each top nickel consumer: China, India, European Union, United States and Japan.