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NICKEL

Nickel is a lustrous, silvery-white metal which is hard, ductile, malleable, and can take a high polish. It has fairly low thermal and electrical conductivities and can be magnetised. Properties that are important in industrial applications include resistance to oxidation and to corrosion by alkalis, strength at high temperatures, and the ability to form alloys with many other metals.

In the Earth’s crust nickel abundance averages 80 parts per million (ppm), but, as it is greatly concentrated in the core, it is actually the fifth most common element on the planet. Nickel occurs with iron in meteorites. Nickel is also present in soils and occurs naturally and in small quantities in plants, animals and seawater.

World nickel resources
About 40 per cent of world nickel resources are in magmatic sulphide deposits and around 60 per cent are in laterites (Hoatson et al, 2006). The magmatic sulphides can be further divided into 50 per cent in stratabound deposits, 32 per cent in basal deposits and 18 per cent extrusive ultramafic rocks. It is estimated that a further 290 million tonnes of nickel is contained in deep sea nodules, so this could double the current estimated global nickel resource if they became economic to extract.

Physical Properties.
Nickel is a metallic chemical element with the Atomic number 29 and Symbol Ni. The Atomic weight 58.6934 while Density at 293 K 8902 kg/m3, Melting point 1453ºC, Boiling point 2732ºC. It has a Crystal structure face centered cubic, Hardness 3.8Moh and Electrical conductivity 22%.

Nickel is a transition group metal with 14 known isotopes, five of which are stable. It has the same oxidation state (+2) as, and a similar ionic size to, iron and other similar transition group metals, so it can substitute for iron in many minerals.

Mineralogy
There are numerous nickel-bearing minerals, although some of these are very rare and a few occur only in meteorites. Nickel may substitute for other elements, especially iron and cobalt, in many minerals. Economic concentrations of nickel-bearing minerals occur as sulphides and in laterites. Pentlandite is the most important nickel sulphide mineral in economic deposits where it occurs with pyrrohotite, chalcopyrite and pyrite in mafic and ultramafic (iron- and magnesium- rich) igneous rocks. The main nickel-bearing minerals in laterites are garnierite and nickeliferous limonite.

Deposits
The majority of economic nickel deposits occur in two geological environments: in magmatic sulphides and in laterites. Sulphide deposits, which are the primary source of mined nickel at present, may be formed by fractional crystallisation1 within magma chambers or in ancient lava flows. Sulphide ore grades range from 0.15% to around 8% Ni, but 93 per cent of known deposits are in the range 0.2–2% Ni (Hoatson, 2006). Nickel-bearing lateritic ores, with average nickel content of 1–1.6%, are formed by tropical and sub- tropical surface weathering. Laterites currently account for around 70 per cent of nickel contained in land-based deposits but contribute only 40 per cent of world production. It is anticipated that increasing demand for nickel will be met largely by supply from lateritic deposits as processing techniques improve.

Uses
Nickel is predominantly an alloy metal. Its chief use is in nickel steels and nickel cast irons, of which there are many varieties. Nickel is used in many industrial and consumer products, including stainless steel, magnets, coinage, rechargeable batteries, electric guitar strings and special alloys. It is also used for plating and as a green tint in glass.

Price

The price of copper is primarily determined by changes in supply and demand, which are in turn affected and determined by global economic conditions. Copper consumption by Asian countries has increased demand for the metal and, in the last few years, has led to higher prices.

  • Nickel and its spot price
  • One Month, One year, 5years Forecast
 
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