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Top 10 Nickel-producing Countries

Top 10 Nickel-producing Countries

21 May 2017

The Philippines, Russia and Canada were the top producers of the metal in 2016.

1. Philippines

Mine production: 500,000 MT

The Philippines’ nickel production fell to 500,000 MT in 2016 from 554,000 MT in 2015. It’s possible that its output could continue to decline, as early in 2017 the country’s government ordered 23 mines to shut down due to environmental concerns. The mines account for about 50 percent of the Philippines’ annual nickel output, and around 10 percent of world supply.

2. Russia

Mine production: 256,000 MT

Russia also saw a slight fall in nickel production last year, putting out 256,000 MT of nickel compared to 269,000 MT the previous year. Norilsk Nickel



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2+***    S    `(MCX:GMKN), one of the world’s largest nickel and palladium producers, recently said it plans to increase its nickel output in 2017. It expects to produce 206,000 to 211,000 MT of the metal from Russian feedstock.

3. Canada

Mine production: 255,000 MT

Canada saw an increase in nickel production from 2015 to 2016, producing 255,000 MT of nickel last year. The country’s Sudbury Basin is the second-largest supplier of nickel ore in the world, and major miner Vale’s (NYSE:VALE) Sudbury operation is located there. Every year the operation produces about 65,000 MT of the metal.

4. Australia

Mine production: 206,000 MT

Australia’s nickel production dropped from 222,000 MT in 2015 to 206,000 MT in 2016. Some top-producing mines in the country include BHP Billiton’s (NYSE:BHP,ASX;BHP,LSE:BLT) Nickel West Kwinana refinery, which produced 40,900 tonnes of nickel in the first half of the year, and First Quantum Minerals’ (TSX:FM,LSE:FQM) Ravensthorpe mine, which exports about 25,000 tonnes of nickel annually.


5. New Caledonia

Mine production: 205,000 MT

Unlike most other countries on the list, New Caledonia saw an increase in nickel production in 2016; its output rose from 186,000 MT in 2015 to 205,000 MT in 2016.

The South Pacific French Territory has resisted selling nickel ore directly to large nickel-consuming countries such as China in order to preserve its domestic smelting and refining industry, which is a main source of revenue. However, in late December, the New Caledonian government approved requests from nickel miners to export over 2 million additional tonnes of ore to China, according to Capital Economics.

6. Indonesia

Mine production: 168,000 MT

Indonesia experienced a jump in nickel production last year, with its output increasing from 130,000 MT in 2015 to 168,500 MT in 2016. In January 2017, the country relaxed its ban on low-grade nickel ore exports in an attempt to boost its economy. Under the new rules, miners can export up to 5.2 million tonnes of nickel ore a year. While that is undoubtedly significant, the rules accompanying the relaxation on Indonesian nickel ore exports could prevent an immediate ramp up in exports.

7. Brazil

Mine production: 142,000 MT

Brazil saw a drop in nickel production in 2016, with output sinking from 160,000 MT in 2015 to 142,000 MT in 2016. Vale is based in Brazil and is a major nickel producer in the country.

8. China

Mine production: 90,000 MT

China’s nickel production fell by 2,900 MT in 2016, dropping to 90,000 MT. According to Reuters, China is the world’s leading producer of nickel pig iron, which is a low-grade ferro nickel used in stainless steel.

9. Guatemala

Mine production:58,600 MT

Guatemala’s nickel output increased by 6,200 MT in 2016, jumping from 52,400 MT to 58,600 MT. The Fenix mine in El Estor is the largest mine in the country, and is privately owned by the Solway Group. The company hopes to increase the mine’s output capacity to 22,000 MT of contained nickel annually.

10. Cuba

Mine production: 56,000 MT

Finally, Cuba’s nickel production remained almost flat in 2016, coming in at 56,000 MT. According to Reuters, nickel is one of the top foreign exchange earners for Cuba’s beleaguered economy, and the country averaged production of around 74,000 tonnes in the decade after 2000. Since then its nickel export earnings have been hit by plant obsolescence and low nickel prices.