Nickel facts

Nickel and its compounds are essential for the manufacture of countless products that we rely on daily. Reflecting this vast use, Canada's nickel and nickel-related products are exported to more than 100 countries.

Key facts

  • Canada's exports of nickel and nickel-based products in 2017 were valued at $3.8 billion
  • In 2017, Canada ranked fifth in the world for mine production of nickel and fourth for production of refined nickel

Learn more about nickel

Uses

Stainless steel is the largest end use for nickel, accounting for two-thirds of total consumption. Nickel is also used as an alloying agent in the manufacture of both ferrous and non-ferrous metal products.

It is also used in electroplating, in which a thin layer of nickel is coated onto a metal object as a decorative feature or to provide resistance to both corrosion and wear.

While nickel is well known as a component in the manufacture of nickel-cadmium batteries, an important evolving use is in the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles.

Nickel, global uses, 2017

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This circular chart shows the major industrial uses of nickel as of 2017. The largest use was for stainless steel (68%), followed by alloy production (16%), electroplating (9%), metallurgical casting (3%), batteries (3%) and other miscellaneous products (1%).

Production

In 2017, Canada produced an estimated 211,925 tonnes of nickel in concentrate from mines located in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. Canada also produced 163,200 tonnes of refined nickel at four refineries located in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta; Thompson, Manitoba; Sudbury, Ontario; and Long Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Canadian mine production of nickel, 2008–2017 (p)

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This bar graph shows Canada's annual mine production of nickel from 2008 to 2017. Canada mined 259,651 tonnes of nickel in 2008 and 211,925 tonnes in 2017.

Canadian mine production of nickel, by province, 2017 (p)
Ranking Province Thousand tonnes Percentage of total
1 Ontario 81.7 38.6%
2 Newfoundland and Labrador 54.8 25.9%
3 Quebec 52.9 24.9%
4 Manitoba 22.5 10.6%
Total 211.9 100.0%

Canadian refined production of nickel, 2008–2017 (p)

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This bar graph shows Canada's refined production of nickel from 2008 to 2017. Canada refined 167,700 tonnes of nickel in 2008 and 163,200 tonnes in 2017.

Canada refined production of nickel, by province, 2017 (p)

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This map of Canada shows Canada's refined production of nickel by province in percentages in 2017. Ontario had the largest share with 35%, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (32%), Alberta (19%) and Manitoba (14%).

International context

Find out more about mined and refined nickel production on an international scale:

Global mine production of nickel in 2017 was estimated at 2.1 million tonnes. Canada ranked fifth, with 10% of global mined production.

World mine production of nickel, by country, 2017 (p)
Ranking Country Thousand tonnes Percentage of total
1 Philippines 366 17.2%
2 Kazakhstan 345 16.1%
3 New Caledonia 215.1 10.0%
4 Russia 212 9.9%
5 Canada 211.9 9.9%
6 Australia 187.4 8.7%
7 China 94.8 4.4%
8 Brazil 87.6 4.1%
- Other countries 425.4 19.8%
Total 2,145.20 100.0%

World mine production of nickel, 2008–2017 (p)

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This bar graph shows the world's annual mined production of nickel from 2008 to 2017. Production was 1.6 million tonnes in 2008 and 2.0 million tonnes in 2017.

Global refined production of nickel in 2017 was estimated at 2.0 million tonnes. Overall, Canada ranked fourth among the world producers of refined nickel. Seven countries accounted for more than 70% of the world's refined nickel production.

World refined production of nickel, by country, 2017 (p)
Ranking Country Thousand tonnes Percentage of total
1 China 623.7 30.0%
2 Indonesia 204.8 9.8%
3 Japan 187.7 9.0%
4 Canada 163.2 7.8%
5 Russia 159.3 7.7%
6 Australia 112.1 5.4%
7 New Caledonia 104.2 5.0%
8 Other countries 535.8 25.3%
Total 2081.7 100.0%

World refined production of nickel, 2008–2017 (p)

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This bar graph shows the world's refined production of nickel from 2008 to 2017. Production was 1.4 million tonnes in 2008 and 2.1 million tonnes in 2017.

World reserves

In 2017, total world nickel reserves, as calculated by the U.S. Geological Survey, were estimated at 74 million tonnes.

World reserves of nickel, by country, 2017 (p)

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This bar graph shows the estimated world reserves of nickel by country in millions of tonnes in 2017. Australia had the largest tonnage (19.0), followed by Brazil (12.0), Russia (7.6), Cuba (5.5), the Philippines (4.8), Indonesia (4.5), South Africa (3.7), China (2.9), Canada (2.7) and other countries (11.3).

Trade

Canada's total trade in nickel and nickel-based products in 2017 was valued at $4.6 billion. Exports of nickel and nickel-based products were valued at $3.8 billion; imports were valued at $776 million.

Canada exported 132,000 tonnes of unwrought nickel valued at $1.9 billion in 2017. The United States imported 41% of this export trade, while 21% was destined for China/Hong Kong, 7% went to Belgium, 7% went to the Netherlands and the remainder was shipped to 23 other countries.

Prices

Nickel prices per tonne fluctuated throughout 2017, starting in January at US$10,040, dropping to US$8,530 in July and ending at US$11,484 in December.

Nickel, monthly average prices, 2008–2017

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This line graph shows the average price in US dollars per tonne of nickel from 2008 to 2017. The annual price of nickel averaged $21,304.18 per tonne in 2008. In 2017, the average annual price was $10,381.08 per tonne and the monthly prices of nickel were as follows: $10,040 (January); $10,674 (February); $10,283 (March); $9,726 (April); $9,195 (May); $8,988 (June); $8,530 (July); $10,908 (August); $11,313 (September); $11,382 (October); $12,050 (November); and $11,484 (December).

Notes and sources

(p) preliminary

Totals may be different because of rounding.

All dollars are Canadian unless otherwise indicated.

Uses

  • Nickel, global uses, 2017
    • International Nickel Study Group

Production

  • Canadian mine production of nickel, 2008–2017 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian mine production of nickel, by province, 2017 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian refined production of nickel, 2008–2017 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian refined production of nickel, by province, 2017 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada

International context

  • World mine production of nickel, by country, 2017 (p)
    • International Nickel Study Group
  • World mine production of nickel, 2008–2017 (p)
    • International Nickel Study Group
  • World refined production of nickel, by country, 2017 (p)
    • International Nickel Study Group
  • World refined production of nickel, 2008–2017 (p)
    • International Nickel Study Group
  • World reserves of nickel, by country, 2017 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey

Prices

  • Nickel, monthly average prices, 2008–2017
    • London Metal Exchange