Nickel is a critical metal used primarily in stainless steel production (68%), in alloys and plating (16%) and increasingly in batteries for electric vehicles (EVs).

While nickel is a common element on earth, it is rarely concentrated into economic deposits near surface. Deposits occur in the form of nickel laterite (oxide) or nickel sulphide with nickel laterite now representing 70% of global nickel production. The major producing countries are Indonesia (50%), Philippines (11%), Russia (7%), New Caledonia (6%), Australia (5%) and Canada (4%). Global annual nickel production is approximately 3 million tonnes (~$US 42 billion industry) and growing at a rate of up to 7% per year.

The United States represents less than 1% of global nickel production with the entire amount coming from a single nickel deposit, the Eagle Mine located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and owned by Lundin Mining. The Eagle Mine, with over 400 employees and contractors, will produce 400 million pounds of nickel during the life of mine and is scheduled to shut down in 2029 as its reserves are depleted, potentially leaving the United States with no source of domestic nickel by 2030, a time when the internal combustion engine (ICE) is to be phased out and replaced by EVs that are heavily nickel dependent.

*The Eagle mine

Two states within the continental USA with the largest concentrations of nickel are California and Oregon. These deposits are nickel laterite, located at surface and easy to extract. The development of nickel laterite within the United States would secure a domestic source for this critical metal for several decades, providing a means for the planned transition away from fossil fuel dependent transportation.

More information