Vale is the nickel king based on 2017 production totals.
Vale produced 242 kilotonnes of nickel in 2017. Note, this is nickel just derived from mines. Total excludes nickel provided by external parties.
Nickel, a key metal for lithium-ion batteries and part of the electrification drive, was on a tear for most of 2018 but has recently fallen to earth. Nickel was up 25 percent this spring when it was trading above $15,000 per tonne, but it has recently succumbed to the base metal rout and is now down to $12,400 per tonne on the LME.
Ranking based on Mining Intelligence data. Annual nickel production is compiled from publicly-traded mining companies, as well as some state-owned mines. Stock exchanges used are TSX, TSX-V, ASX, LSE, LSE-AIM, NYSE and JSE.
MINING.com ranking divides nickel production amongst nickel mines that are jointly owned, such as the Sorowako property that is 59% owned by Vale. and thus is attributed 59% of Sorowako’s total nickel production. Total output at Sorowako was 78 kilotonnes. Vale is attributed 59% of 78 kilotonnes or 46 kilotonnes.
Top Nickel Miners and Total Production From Mines
Vale – 243 kilotonnes – The integrated Brazilian miner is the top nickel producer. It gets a big lift from Canada where both its top-producing mines are located: Vale’s Sudbury Mine produced 62 kilotonnes of nickel in 2017, followed by Voisey’s Bay at 51.8 kilotonnes. The four other mines are Sorowako (46 kilotonnes), VNC-Goro (34 kilotonnes), Onca Puma (25 kilotonnes) and Thompson Operations (23 kilotonnes). Note that the total nickel production for Sorowako, which is 59% owned by Vale, is divided amongst mine owners. Vale also has 95% interest in VNC-Goro.
Norilsk Nickel – 163 kilotonnes – The Russian miner has some of the biggest nickel mines in the world. It’s Kola and Polar Division produced 155 kilotonnes of nickel in 2017. Note that Norilsk doesn’t split out total nickel production amongst the two mines. Production is wholly attributed to Kola. Norilsk’s other mine, Nkomati, produced 8 kilotonnes for the Russian Miner. Norilsk has a 50% interest in the mine.
Glencore – 130 kilotonnes – Glencore’s Integrated Nickel Operations in Sudbury produced 87 kilotonnes in 2017. Murrin Murrin in Australia produced 34 kilotonnes, and Konaimbo in New Caledonia produced 8.5 kilotonnes. Glencore has a 49% interest in Konaimbo.
BHP Billiton – 70 kilotonnes – BHP’s Nickel West produced 70 kilotonnes in 2017.
Anglo American – 44 kilotonnes – Anglo’s Barro Alto and Codemin produced 35 and 9 kilotonnes respectively.
South32 – 41 kilotonnes – All of South32’s production was attributed to its Cerro Matoso Mine that produced 41 kilotonnes.
Sumitomo – 32 kilotonnes – Sumitomo’s Sorowako and Ambatovy produced about 16 kilotonnes each in 2017. Sumitomo has a 21% interest in Sorowako and a 44% interest in Ambatovy.
Western Areas – 25 kilotonnes – Western Areas’ nickel came from its two mines: Spotted Quoll (15 kilotonnes) and Flying Fox (10 kilotonnes).
Lundin Mining – 22 kilotonnes – Lundin got all of its nickel from its Eagle Mine (22 kilotonnes).
Terrafame – 21 kilotonnes – The Finnish miner produced 21 kilotonnes at its Talvivaara Sotkamo mine.
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Creative Commons image of close-up of American nickel courtesy of Jesse! S?.