Domestic Production and Use: The United States did not have any active nickel mines in 2010. Limited amounts of byproduct nickel were recovered from copper and palladium-platinum ores mined in the Western United States. An inclined tunnel was being driven to access a sulfide orebody in Michigan, and four other projects were in varying stages of development in Minnesota. Read More
In the June quarter 2011, Australia’s mined nickel production (in nickel content terms) increased quarter–on–quarter, by 16 per cent to 54000 tonnes. Total nickel export volumes in the June quarter increased by 6 per cent, compared to March, to 54000 tonnes. The value of Australia’s nickel exports in the June quarter declined by 11 per cent, relative to the March quarter, to $966 million, reflecting lower world nickel prices.
Australian nickel mine production increased by 21 per cent in 2010–11, relative to 2009–10, to total 193000 tonnes. This reflected higher production from BHP Billiton’s Nickel West operation in Western Australia. Refined nickel production decreased by 16 per cent in 2010–11, relative to 2009–10, to total 101000 tonnes, due to lower production from BHP Billiton’s Kwinana refinery as a result of a shortage of necessary inputs to production. Read More
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile. Pure nickel shows a significant chemical activity that can be observed when nickel is powdered to maximize the exposed surface area on which reactions can occur, but larger pieces of the metal are slow to react with air at ambient conditions due to the formation of a protective oxide surface. Even then, nickel is reactive enough with oxygen so that native nickel is rarely found on Earth’s surface, being mostly confined to the interiors of larger nickel–iron meteorites that were protected from oxidation during their time in space. On Earth, such native nickel is always found in combination with iron, a reflection of those elements’ origin as major end products of the nucleosynthesis process in supernovas. An iron–nickel mixture is thought to compose Earth’s inner core.