Akcieatrhy (Akcieatrhy.cz)
Markets  |  January 15, 2013 11:56:24

Nickel - back to the roots. Part One.


Generally, the most successful in life, is who has the best information.

Extraction of nickel sulfide deposits ends

Nickel is part of more than 3000 different alloys that are part of the more than 300,000 consumer products. Located use in aerospace, military, architecture, transportation, shipbuilding and seamanship.

Nickel is the most used (along with chromium and other metals) to the alloying of iron for the production of stainless and heat resisting steels. This is used about 65% of total production. The main objective of adding nickel to iron is to stabilize the austenitic structure of the steel (ie a cubic lattice). Ordinary carbon steel during solidification produces a mixture of ferrite and cementite structure.
When you add a nickel to the melt, not to cool down during their formation and the resulting steel is austenitic structure of the material. Austenitic stainless steels have high ductility, low yield stress and a high tensile strength compared with carbon steel. Other examples of metals with the austenitic structure are aluminum and copper.

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Another 20% of nickel is used to produce other types of steel in the form of a ferrous alloy (a mixture with other metals than steel) and super alloys (metallic alloys resistant to extremely high temperatures and pressures, or an alloy with high electrical conductivity), such as used in high specialized industrial applications for military and aviation purposes.

About 9% is used for protikoroznímu plating and the remaining 6% of nickel production is used in electronics, coin production, manufacturing rechargeable batteries, used as a catalyst in the chemical industry and as a dye obarvující glass green.
In most cases, there is no substitute for nickel, and those that do exist are not as effective or more expensive.

Rechargeable Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries are used in mobile phones, cameras, camcorders, mobile computers, and other electronic devices. Nickel-cadmium battery powered cordless tools and serves as a power source for various other purposes.

U.S. Department of Energy (Department of Energy) funded a number of programs designed to encourage faster development of energy from renewable sources. This research and development projects concerning in particular:

• domestic manufacturing of advanced batteries
• the development and enhancement of stationary and portable fuel cells.
• the development and commercialization of bio-refineries scalable
• Further development of molten salt technology used for energy storage in power plants based on the concentration of solar energy.
• the development and construction of parabolic reflectors and other concentrators for use in solar power plants.
• Design and development of equipment for obnovitelnému and efficient use of geothermal energy.

All of these emerging trends of energy production may become important buyers of nickel or its alloys.

Chart Analysis 1

Nickel occurs in two forms

Nickel is found naturally in two forms, in the form of sulphide (sulphide and arsenide) and lateritic, formed by weathering of olivine mantle ultrabasic rocks. About 60% of the world's known nickel reserves are lateritidy, the rest of sulphides.

Nickel sulfide reserves consist mainly of mineral pentlandit, ie ferric-sulfide nikelnato - (Ni, Fe) 9S8, which was hyrotermálních precipitation from solution. Sometimes it may be in the form of nickel used in naming magmatic nickel sulfide form. The main advantage of sulfide ore processing method is based on simple physical separation technique called flotation. Ore is first calcined, then pyrometallurgical processes separating nickel from copper compounds and then further refined.

Magma is a mixture of molten rock, gases and solids that is found deep in the earth's crust. Lava is just another name for hot magma rising to the surface in volcanic vents and volcanic eruptions. Magma contains small additions of nickel, copper and other valuable metals. As the magma rises, gets into contact with the colder crystalline rock and begins to cool.

Contains a sufficient amount of sulfur, or when it passes through the earth's mantle melted sulfur bearing disperse the sulfur in the magma in the form of tiny droplets. Since nickel, copper, iron, and precious metals have an affinity for sulfur, react with it and produce sulfide droplets dispersed in magma. Because sulfides have higher density, decrease in magma mine, where it creates a higher concentration of sulphides.With decreasing temperature the crystallization occurs and creates deposits of ore containing these metals.

There are two main types of nickel sulphide deposits. The first type are nickel and copper sulphides. Copper (Cu) and nickel (Ni) are the main economic commodities, with copper may be the main or accompanying the product and by-products are then usually cobalt (Co), platinum (Pt), gold (Au) and precious metals. The second type is the bearing that is extracted mainly due to the content of precious metals and other metals which go only byproduct.

Nickel sulfide deposits may be present as individual sulphide ore, or form the tens to hundreds of kilometers long. Two of the world's largest deposits of nickel are Sudbury in Canada, which was discovered during the construction of Canadian-Pacific Railroad and Norilsk in Russia.

The most important bearing for mining precious metals are platinum-rich Bushveld deposit in South Africa. The second such bearing is again Norilsk in Russia, which is very rich in platinum, nickel and copper and is a byproduct of mining ore.

Inventories of nickel in the form of lateritic minerals consist mainly of limonite (Fe, Ni) O (OH) and garnieritem (Ni, Mg) 3Si2O5 (OH) 4 (hydrosilikát nickel). These minerals formed by weathering of olivine mantle ultrabasic rocks, which came to the surface, or formed by weathering of sulphide forms and converting oxides of these metals. Mining is operated in surface mines and ore processing is not easy. For there to extract nickel, ore must melt or dissolve.But this in turn means that the mining projects of this form of nickel have higher costs per unit of economic output than projects based on the extraction of sulphides.

Approximately 60% of the total reserves of nickel is in laterite form that originated by weathering of igneous rocks. Weathering increased concentration of metal because lighter weathered rock pieces were washed away, or scattering, while the heavier metals remain in place. Weathering in tropical regions is performed quickly, so higher concentrations are found in this climatic zone.

Usually in lateritic nickel bearing phase is very large, with a low concentration of metal, lying just below the surface. Bearing guillotine is flat and takes up many square kilometers area. The usual range is 20 million tons or more, and there are bearings with a billion tons of material.

Laterite deposits usually contain both the upper layer of red limonite (iron top, bottom nickel, magnesium and silica) and green saprolitu (top nickel, magnesium and silica, iron oxides below). Due to the different concentrations of iron, magnesium and silicates in each layer must be processed differently in each zone, which has an effect on the economy of obtaining nickel. Saprolitová ore is processed by standard pyrometallurgical processes. Limonite is processed by high-pressure acid leaching (HPAL).

HPAL, processed ore by leaching in sulfuric acid at temperatures of 270 ° C and a pressure of 600 psi cobalt in the autoclave. The ore is released nickel and cobalt. The separation of solids and liquids used decantation. Department of nickel and cobalt is then carried out by dissolution and subsequent electrolysis. The results of this technology are not very convincing.


At present, the main extraction of nickel sulfide deposits consisting extraction. 58% of world production comes from sulfite, 42% of laterite. This is due to the fact that the extraction of sulphite deposits is cheaper and processing of nickel is cheaper. However, the known large deposits are nearly exhausted and new ones are not.

There is a trend reversal in mining, because of the increasing world consumption of nickel and due to the lack of quality bearing sulfide mining companies přeorientovávají the extraction of laterite. It happens that the production becomes the primary source of laterite nickel production.

The world's largest nickel reserves are located in three states:

Russia is the world's largest producer of nickel and mining giant Norilsk Nickel is the world's largest nickel miners. One-fifth of world production comes from Norilsk, which has the largest reserves of nickel sulfide in the world.

Canada is the second largest producer of nickel. The main areas of mining nickel are: Thompson Nickel Belt in Manitoba, the Sudbury Basin in Ontario, and the Ungava Peninsula in Quebec.

The third largest producer in the world is Australia. The main markets for Australian nickel, Europe, Japan and the United States.

To be continued ...

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