As investors rushed towards critical metals last year, nickel reached heights it hadn’t seen in over 10 years hitting just under US$50 thousand per tonne in February.
Much of nickel’s popularity over the past year has been due to its critical role in the growing electric vehicle market, with the International Energy Agency estimating that the electric vehicle and battery storage industries will overtake stainless steel as the top consumer of nickel by 2040, expecting demand to rise by 60-70 per cent.
As electric vehicles continue to gain prominence, automotive manufacturers cannot ignore the importance of nickel in enhancing the energy density and range per charge of electric vehicle batteries. These two factors are crucial in meeting consumer demand for electric vehicles that can match the performance of their combustion engine cousins.
Electric vehicles have become a key tool in many governments’ plans to cut carbon emissions to hit a global objective of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with many introducing a number of incentives to push car buyers into adopting electric vehicles.
In Australia, many state governments are already offering incentives for new electric vehicle purchases and the federal government is not too far behind, with the Albanese government now working on the country’s first National Electric Vehicle Strategy aimed at making electric vehicles more affordable, encouraging uptake and increasing local manufacturing.
And it appears that it is paying off, with the Electric Vehicle Council’s Australian Electric Vehicle Industry Recap 2022 revealing that electric vehicles made up 3.8 per cent of all new cars sold in Australia in 2022 nearly double the amount sold in 2021, which is itself triple of the amount sold in 2020.
As electric vehicles look to stick around, the demand for nickel is set to continue. Investors are keeping a close watch on companies that explore and extract nickel to meet the ever-growing appetite of the electric vehicle industry.
Western Australia in particular is looking to become a big player in nickel’s coming resurgence, with a number of players looking to drill into the wildflower state’s rich mining pedigree.
Most recently, Chalice Mining’s share price jumped 12.09 per cent as it delivered a one-two punch to investors from its West Australian projects, uncovering two new priority Ni-Cu-PGE targets at its South West JV followed by increasing the Gonneville Deposit at its world-class Julimar Project by approximately fifty per cent to ~3Mt NiEq at, with the Company now on the lookout for a partner to develop this immense resource.
NIMY (ASX: NMY) Resources are ramping up exploration at its Mons project, targeting disseminated nickel sulphides in 21 EM anomalies that confirm the project’s 80km strike extent and Infinity Mining (ASX: IMI) is zeroing in on the battery metal at its Panorama Project in the state’s legendary Pilbara region where rock chips have shown grades as high as 7636 parts per million nickel.
Investors should also keep their eyes on Africa, with Botswana, in particular, being home to a number of exciting nickel projects.
Kavango Resources is now eyeing a Nova-style discovery at its Kalahari Suture Zone as similarities between it and the legendary nickel discovery becoming increasingly evident and London-listed Power Metal Resources unveiled four new A+ priority targets at its Molopo Farms Complex with conductance readings akin to massive sulphides as it wrapped up a 2400 metre drilling campaign at the project.
Canada is also looking to become a battery-metal powerhouse, with the nation pumping $3.8 billion dollars into developing its critical metals sector, a massive boon to the explorers braving the cold to crack into the nation’s massive promise.
On Ontario’s renowned Hemlo-Schrieber belt, First-Class Metals have been targeting nickel sulphides across its extensive portfolio since its award-winning IPO last year, with the explorer most recently extending a high-grade sulphide zone by over 600 metres that returned assays up to 3.9 per cent Ni at its West Pickle Lake JV with the potential for a further extension on to FCM’s 100 per cent owned territory.
As nickel demand grows alongside that of electric vehicles, and with a number of exciting projects around the globe, it is an exciting time for nickel exploration.