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nickel ore mining usa

nickel ore mining usa

Home: A nickel refinery tops US battery metals ... MINING.COM

The United States is import dependent across the spectrum of battery metals with large parts of the supply chain captured by China, a problematic international trading partner. However, the nature of the dependency differs by mineral, starting in the ground. The United States, for example, has lithium resources and domestic corporations well versed in recovery and refinement globally, according to the report. The ambition, therefore, is to stimulate more domestic mining and, even more importantly, domestic processing through a potential mix of purchasing guarantees, federal funding and research and development into enhanced recovery technology. Chinas investment in this section of the supply chain has made them the worlds leader despite domestic lithium supply, the report notes. When it comes to nickel, however, the only active U.S. mine Eagle in Michigan is due to retire in 2025 and domestic deposits are small and low grade. There is no domestic nickel processing...

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Nickel demand is rising because automakers are trying to reduce their usage of cobalt, a metal that is overshadowed by a supply chain reliance on the Democratic Republic of Congo and its artisanal workforce. The Department of Energy wants to help them with a commitment to a multi year initiative to address the scientific and engineering issues with reducing and eliminating the cobalt in EV batteries. Research is already taking place into new materials such as silicon and lithium metal anodes with progress to date very good, the report says. The motivation is the same as that of Tesla or Volkswagen. Changing the demand dynamic is the surest long term way of resolving cobalts cost and supply problems. The DOE awarded cobalt the lowest quality supply chain score of all elements, largely due to the alleged mining conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo and conditions surrounding cobalt refining in China. But with most of the worlds known cobalt reserves in the Con...

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Also critical to reducing critical minerals dependence will be building recycling capacity, according to the DOE. Battery recycling could meet up to 30% of nickel and 80% of cobalt usage in electric vehicles by the end of the decade but there are multiple hurdles in getting there. It will require a national recycling policy to align a sector that is currently fragmented by state legislation. Without one batteries will go to landfill or be exported to other countries where the metals will be extracted. It will also need more research and development on how to recycle electric vehicle batteries because its currently unprofitable in many cases and is becoming more chemically difficult as battery ingredients multiply. Ideally, it should take place in tandem with a build out of other parts of the battery supply chain such as cell and pack manufacture, allowing new scrap to be continuously looped back into the production process. The report recommends the United States should form a cr...

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Recycling will likely help close the U.S. dependency gap faster in cobalt than it will in nickel. This is because the current recyclables stream is largely made up of consumer electronics and first generation EVs, neither of which contain much nickel. The world is going to need a lot more new nickel before recycling can make a real impact. There is a nickel mining and processing boom underway in Indonesia but rather than offering any comfort to the United States, the dominance of Chinese players simply means the country risks falling further behind China in this critical mineral. As such, there is urgency to developing a strategy around Class 1 nickel, the report concludes. Starting with a U.S. funded nickel processing plant.

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