Why has nickel become the “green” metal of the future? – The future on vc.ru

In the context of the global climate crisis and the trend towards a more environmentally conscious attitude, green energy will become the most promising line of business over the coming decades.

All alternative sources and materials for “environmentally friendly” energy will be converted into “new oil”. In the April issue of the British Mining magazine, investor Kenis Rakishev reflects on the prospects for the metal, without which there would be no modern tools.

In 2019 alone, development and investment in alternative energy created 11 million new jobs around the world. The global COVID-19 pandemic has prompted scientists and investors to consider alternative energy sources, environmental friendliness and environmental conservation. If the goals and programs that world leaders in the economy set for themselves today are implemented, by 2030 we will have 1,041 gigawatts of renewable energy sources, and the generation of “green energy” will increase by 42% compared to today’s capabilities.

Mining Magazine page (April 2021), photo provided by the editors

So far, global investment in low-carbon energy has grown to unprecedented proportions. Entire sectors of the economy are gradually moving from fossil energy sources to electricity generated with the help of new technologies. Electric motors are becoming a major trend, and not only in the automotive industry. One of the key aspects in the process of this transformation will be the increased demand for minerals, which form the basis of modern technologies for the generation and storage of electricity. Here and transport with the lowest emissions to the environment, the production of “clean” energy, its accumulation and preservation in the form of new battery production technologies.

Nickel is one of the basic elements in this series. Few people think that this element is an integral part of almost all modern devices that are used by both businessmen and ordinary consumers – from computers, mobile phones or kitchen appliances to the high-tech defense industry. Although sometimes we do not notice the presence of this element in our lives, today it plays a major role in the modern economy of sustainable development.

300 million tons

Nickel reserves in the world

Developed and produced by 25 countries. The leaders are Russia, Canada and Australia. But there are good prospects for developing this market in Central Asia. The modern production process – from extraction to final processing, incorporation into various production processes and disposal – is also a huge labor market, including highly skilled, which provides employment to millions of people in these regions. Due to its unique properties, this element will make it possible in the near future to achieve many of the goals that the United Nations sets before the world community.

electric motors

In modern electric motors, this metal plays one of the main roles, since many models of energy-intensive batteries consist of 65% or more nickel alloys. This technology has already made it possible to significantly increase the energy density, and at the same time reduce the cost of production of modern batteries.

The coronavirus pandemic has also contributed to the realization of the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. The case when it is appropriate to say: “There is no evil without good.”

In 2020 alone, sales of electric motors grew to 3 million units, or 40% over the previous year.

Kenis Rakishev


It is encouraging that the largest growth was recorded not only in Europe (46% of the total), but also in China (39% of the total). And this is a very important factor from the point of view of ecology, since the Celestial Empire is included in The three centers to carbon dioxide emissions.

The first shoots of the “green” economy
Michelle Henderson from Unsplash.com

This demand for nickel, especially in the automotive industry, allows us to forecast an increase in production of this metal from 92 kilotons in 2020 to 2.6 megatons by 2040.

Today, the technological leap in the development of electric drives allows many analysts to predict that by 2025 cars with electric drives will occupy up to 10% of the market of the entire automotive industry in the world. So, a few months ago, a developer of the latest battery, StoreDot, introduced a battery that can be charged in 5 minutes. To date, these indicators have been achieved for batteries of relatively small size (household appliances, electric scooters, etc.), but the technology may soon be extended to car batteries.

In addition to its primary role in producing batteries for the automobile industry, nickel has become a key component in the manufacture of wind turbines, solar panels, biopower plants, and other renewable energy equipment. It is also widely used in the fields of logistics and transportation, in the production of water treatment equipment and the manufacture of water pipes, and can significantly reduce water loss in all stages of human life.

Nickel-containing alloys used in shipbuilding can significantly reduce sulfur emissions in the world’s oceans. The role of this element in the food industry is no less significant: in the production, processing and storage of foodstuffs, equipment using nickel-based stainless steel is cleaned and restored easier, faster and with less damage to the environment.

But most importantly in the era of the fight for the environment, nickel is a completely recyclable material that can be given a “second, third … fifth life” without losing quality and consumer properties. This is the basis of the so-called “circular economy”, based on renewable resources, which all developed countries strive to achieve today.

“ethical” mining

If nickel becomes one of the key elements in the “green” economy, it is important to understand how to mine this metal with minimal damage to the environment. If demand increases, then, obviously, we can expect a more active, and therefore, sometimes, “barbaric” and environmentally unfriendly extraction technology.

Meanwhile, new technologies today allow us to carry out the “ethical” extraction of such an important element of the table in relation to nature and at the same time make it very profitable.

A few years ago, I made the decision to invest in nickel exploration and production through Kaznickel. Subsequently, this company became part of Battery Metals Technology, a leading nickel mining company in East Kazakhstan according to the latest ISR environmental standards.

This technology allows the ore to be left in the ground and the minerals to be extracted from it by dissolving them and pumping a saturated solution to the surface where the minerals can be recovered. This technology, unlike the old traditional methods of mining, allows not to dig huge pits, not to leave the so-called “tailings”, and not to dry out the soil. This is a more environmentally friendly technology. Production costs are declining, becoming more flexible and mobile on a smaller scale.

The development of the electronics and renewable energy sectors will only increase the role of nickel as a major component of the new economy. And new technologies must help us take all the resources that nature gives from nature, while preserving them for future generations.

Mining Magazine Page (April 2021): Conclusion and Author
Photo from Mining Magazine

Kenis Rakishev is an international investor and entrepreneur who was chosen by Forbes as the 12th Influential Businessman in Kazakhstan in 2019. He is the CEO and Chairman of Fincraft, which invests in mining through its subsidiary Kaznickel. One of the company’s main mining assets is the Gornostaevskoye deposit in eastern Kazakhstan, which is the largest in Central Asia in terms of cobalt and nickel reserves. Kenis Rakishev is also an investor in high-tech companies working on new technologies in the energy sector.

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