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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Nickel – The “Metal That Brought You Cheap Flights” Now “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution”

    Another week, another great infographic by Visual Capitalist – this time on the “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution” – Nickel.
    Long an important base metal because of its alloying capabilities, Nickel’s status as a Gateway Metal, yielding access to tech minerals like Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium – all of which are increasingly becoming indispensable components of 21st Century technology – has continued to elevate the metal’s importance.   

    However, as the infographic outlines, it is its application in battery technology that may completely change Nickel’s status going forward. Here, so far, Cobalt and Lithium have been in the spotlight leaving Nickel largely underrated – even though by mass, Nickel already represents the most important component of Lithium-Ion cathodes. In order to increase energy density while reducing raw material costs, analysts expect the overall Nickel content in future battery chemistries to increase even further. 

    Meanwhile, as the infographic shows, most Nickel is not high-grade enough for battery production, with less than 10 percent coming in sulfide form, of which not all is battery-grade material. 

    From a U.S. perspective, USGS has in recent years revised its Nickel supply assessments, as we outlined last year when we discussed the “metal that brought you cheap flights” in the context of our Gateway Metals informational campaign

    “While previous year reports showed no domestic reserves for Nickel, reserves today are pegged at 160,000 metric tons – and one active new Nickel mine in Michigan produced 26,500 metric tons of concentrates for export to Canadian and overseas smelters. Our net import reliance for Nickel is 37 percent, and new projects in varying stages of development in Minnesota may further reduce our dependence on foreign supplies of Nickel.”

    Since then, our import reliance has dropped even further to 25 percent. 

    If demand projections materialize as outlined in the infographic, that is a good thing, though current investments into the Nickel market may not suffice to fully meet demand. 

    Time for our policy makers and other stakeholders to add Nickel to their watch list and get serious about devising a comprehensive mineral resource strategy. 

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  • Through the Gateway: Nickel – Powering Modern Technology

    Over the course of the last few weeks, we reviewed Nickel and its co-products Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium as part of our trip Through the Gateway.”

    We’ve established that the importance of each of the co-products is growing as the revolution in materials science advances. Meanwhile, our import dependence for each of the co-products is significant, and ranges from 58 percent for Palladium to 100 percent for Scandium.

    For Nickel, the U.S. domestic supply picture has recently changed, with our import dependence dropping from roughly 50 percent to currently 37 percent with new projects having come online.

    Here, too, new uses may increase demand going forward.  We already touched on Nickel’s alloying capabilities, which underscore its versatility and staying power. However, it is its application in battery technology that may become a game changer for the metal’s supply and demand going forward.

    In light of across-the-board predictions of higher battery use over the course of the next few years, and in particular in the consumer and electric vehicle segments, analysts see demand for its component metals – including Nickel – soaring.

    The bottom line – Gateway Metals not only provide us with access to many co-product metals that underpin modern technology.  They are also important building blocks of the 21st Century.  With our domestic manufacturers increasingly relying on a stable supply of Gateway Metals and their co-products, the time to devise a comprehensive mineral resource policy framework is now.

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  • Through the Gateway: Scandium Embodies Materials Science Revolution

    As we near the conclusion of our journey “Through the Gateway,” we noticed that one metal has kept popping up in our coverage – Scandium. A co-product of Tin, we also discussed it in the context of the alloying properties of Gateway Metal Aluminum. It is also a co-product of Nickel. There is good reason it keeps popping up. For [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Cobalt – A Critical Mineral Under Scrutiny

    A lustrous, silvery blue, hard ferromagnetic, brittle element, Cobalt’s physical properties are similar to Iron and Nickel. It forms various compounds, stable in air and unaffected by water.  Main uses include many alloys, including superalloys used in aircraft engine parts and high-speed steels, as well as magnets, and catalysts, to name but a few. It’s [...]
  • Through The Gateway: A Look at Gateway Metals, Co-Products and the Foundations of American Technology

    The following is an overview of our “Through the Gateway” informational campaign, in which we outline the importance of Gateway Metals and their Co-Products. Here, we expand on the findings of our “Gateway Metals and the Foundations of American Technology” report, in which we focused on a group of five “Gateway Metals,” which are not only critical to manufacturing and [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Nickel – “The Metal that Brought You Cheap Flights”

    “It made the age of cheap foreign holidays possible, and for years it was what made margarine spreadable. Nickel may not be the flashiest metal but modern life would be very different without it.”  We couldn’t have introduced our next Gateway Metal any better than the BBC did in a feature story on Nickel and [...]
  • Through the Gateway: “Fairy Dust” Supply Woes Loom

    As we continue our look Through the Gateway, comes a stern reminder by way of Canada that the geopolitics of resource supply represents a complex issue warranting comprehensive policy approaches.   And it literally concerns a metal that touches us — more precisely, we touch it — every day, too many times to count. A decision to [...]
  • Through the Gateway: A Look at Cadmium

    Most of us have heard of Cadmium as a component of NiCd (Nickel-Cadmium) batteries.  To date, this also happens to be the most frequent use for the metal, accounting for about 85% of the Cadmium consumed globally in 2015. A silvery metal with a bluish surface tinge, Cadmium is corrosion-resistant and its oxides are insoluble in water.  Nearly [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Germanium – Semiconductor of the Future?

    Our first Zinc co-product, Germanium, is a silvery metalloid.  According to USGS, “in nature, it never exists as the native metal in nature” and “is rarely found in commercial quantities in the few minerals in which it is an essential component.” That said, the “most commercially important germanium-bearing ore deposits are zinc or lead-zinc deposits formed at low temperature.” Discovered [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Of Diaper Rash Cream, Fertilizer and Battery Technology – A Look at Zinc

    If you’re a parent of young children, you’ll probably appreciate Zinc for its medicinal properties – a good diaper rash cream or sunscreen for the little ones comes with a good dose of Zinc oxide. Otherwise, you may have come across this metal primarily as an anti-corrosion agent used to prevent metals like steel and iron from [...]

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