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ArticleName Nickel and electric vehicle — joint prospects
DOI 10.17580/tsm.2018.07.03
ArticleAuthor Korneev S. I.

“Managing Company “Metalloinvest” LLC, Moscow, Russia:

S. I. Korneev, Senior Analyst, e-mail:


All the leading automakers, such as Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Peogeout-Citroen, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, Tesla, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Suzuki, Hundai, Tata, Chinese auto companies, have announced large-scale, long-term investments in the development of electric vehicles (EV). A number of governments also announced support for EV. The most promising sources of energy for all types of EV are lithium-ion batteries (LIB), characterized by high electrical capacity, low self-discharge, low memory effect, low maintenance, relative safety. The disadvantages of LIBs are their high cost, low temperature dependency, loss of the original characteristics, the complexity of disposal and the health threat in case of damage. The cathode components used for the LIBs are Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (LiNiMnCoO2), Lithium Manganese Oxide (LiMn2O4), Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum Oxide (NCA, LiNiCoAlO2), Lithium Nickel Cobalt Oxide (LNC, LiNiCoO), Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LiCoO2), Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4), Lithium Titanate (Li4Ti5O12). Some of these components contain nickel in the form of nickel sulfate (NS), which is present as a precursor. Nickel sulphate can be obtained from solutions of copper refining electrolytes, from sulphate solutions of cobalt production, and also by dissolving primary nickel (briquettes, cathodes, shot, powder) in sulfuric acid. The predicted long-term and stable demand on the part of companies that produce LIB not only allowed traditional NS producers to expand (Sumitomo, Umicore) or re-profile existing production facilities but also initiated new projects (BHP-Billiton, Lonmin, Australian Mines, Posco, Western Areas, Adrea Resources). In the medium term, the world market of NS will be characterized by a positive dynamics due to the steady demand from the manufacturers of LIB for EV and the readiness of NS manufacturers to meet it in a timely manner. Given the priority of the production of nickel-containing LIBs and the growing competitiveness of EV, the activation of demand for NS is projected for 2024–2026. The indicator of growth in demand for NS will be an increase in the output of EV on LIB with a positive cathode of NMC, NCA, LNC. Increasing the use of nickel-containing components in the production of SN will have a stable positive but not a breakthrough effect on world nickel prices. The formation of a free market of NS and the appearance of an exchange contract can also occur. At the same time, the production of stainless steel still determines the balance of the world market and the level of nickel prices to a decisive degree despite the decline of stainless steel in the share of world primary nickel consumption due to NS.

keywords Electric vehicle, nickel sulfate, lithium-ion battery, precursor, positive cathode, nickel (cathode, briquette, shot, powder), nickel-containing cast iron, stainless steel

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