Australia's opportunities and challenges in Nickel
REPORT

Australia's opportunities and challenges in Nickel

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08.02.2024 - 12:59

ClimateEnergy transition

Our new report ‘A Critical Juncture’, commissioned by the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia, explores Australia's opportunities and challenges in nickel. Our report finds we have inherent advantages as Australia is well placed to capture growing opportunities in nickel with a 9% annual growth forecast. Australia holds 18% of global reserves, which we can refine with significantly less emissions than our competitors. However, growing supply from cheaper Indonesian nickel producers that are more cost-competitive has led to lower prices, which has already seen the closure of a third of Australia’s nickel production. This puts approximately 10,000 jobs, $1.8 billion of economic activity, and Australia’s future battery industry at risk.

Australian nickel has significant opportunities, however strong headwinds are placing its future viability at risk.

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The energy transition offers significant opportunities for Western Australia’s resources industry and minerals exports such as nickel.

As the world accelerates efforts aimed at electrification and moves away from fossil fuels, Western Australia and Australia will need to capture growing opportunities in battery minerals, such as nickel, lithium, and cobalt. Battery demand is expected to increase by 24 per cent annually over the coming decade, driving the need for battery minerals.

Australia, and Western Australia in particular, is positioned to play an important role in the global battery value chain. Australia holds 18 per cent of global nickel reserves while also having (1) strong ESG practices and (2) global policy tailwinds.

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However, the Australian nickel industry is facing strong headwinds, and its future viability is at risk.

Recent drops in nickel price (down 51 per cent since 2022) and growing cost pressures in Australia have led to five Western Australian nickel producers, constituting a third of annual domestic production, announcing closures, with many other producers at risk.

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The nickel industry is strategically vital in supporting Australia’s sovereign capability, economic resilience, and resource security. The decline of the nickel industry puts at risk nearly 10,000 jobs, $1.8 billion of economic activity, and Australia’s future battery industry.

Read the full report here.

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