Nornickel to boost Finland output for EV battery market
Nornickel, the world’s largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel and a major producer of platinum, cobalt and copper, has announced plans to ramp up output at its state-of-the-art nickel refinery in Finland.
Nornickel Harjavalta is mainly powered by renewable energy and is a world-class specialist in the hydrometallurgical production of high purity nickel with the most extensive nickel product portfolio in Europe
Nornickel is boosting its output of nickel products in Finland to meet rising demand from the electric vehicles industry.
Finland’s state mining investment firm Finnish Minerals Group, German chemicals giant BASF and Finnish utility Fortum are among companies currently forming an EV battery cluster in Finland.
Nornickel, one of the world’s largest producers of nickel, wants to meet rising demand from those companies in coming years, its head of sales, Anton Berlin announced.
Its Harjavalta refinery will expand production of nickel sulphate solution, which is used for the manufacture of intermediate products for lithium-ion batteries, reports Reuters.
Being close to customers is vital for this product as long-distance transport eats up the bulk of its profitability, Berlin stated.
“We are confident that this market will be rising,” Berlin said. Estimates of nickel consumption by the global electric and hybrid vehicles sector vary from 400,000 tonnes to 700,000 tonnes a year by 2025, he added.
Harjavalta currently produces 65,000 tonnes of nickel products a year, of which 10,000 tonnes comes in nickel sulphate solution.
It plans to raise production of nickel products to 75,000 tonnes by 2023 and to more than 100,000 tonnes by 2026, including at least 40,000 tonnes of nickel sulphate solution.
This solution would be enough to produce 1 million of electric vehicles, based on the current nickel per car usage.
Despite its expansion of raw materials production for the EV sector, Nornickel does not plan to move into actual EV battery production as it believes that “is a completely different business” to its own, Berlin added.
Joni Hautojärvi, Managing Director at Nornickel Harjavalta commented: “This expansion will further strengthen Harjavalta refinery’s position as one of the most sustainable producers of nickel and cobalt metals to the EV battery industry. Our unique product portfolio combined with EV battery metals recycling development enables NN Harjavalta to be the leading European supplier of the critical metals to the growing battery sector in Europe”.
Nickel output at NN Harjavalta during the first phase of the expansion will increase from the current 65 ktpa to 75 ktpa in 2023 and during the second phase to over 100 ktpa by early 2026.
The factory meets the most stringent EU sustainability requirements and recycles over 90% of its waste delivering to the market products with one of the lowest carbon footprint in the industry.
NN Harjavalta produces nickel in cathodes, briquettes, crystallized salts and solution, cobalt in crystallized sulphate and in solution. The production process is based on sulphuric acid leaching of nickel semi-products, a modern, high-tech approach that enables over 98% extraction rate and is a perfect fit for the production of battery grade nickel and cobalt.
NN Harjavalta monitors its environmental footprint rigorously, and has been an active participant in the studies of the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla) for several decades.
Nornickel is a member of the European Battery Alliance and Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network.
Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.