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Canada Nickel could play a major role in new auto manufacturing industry

May 4, 2023

Nickel is a key component of Lithium-Ion batteries, with the current electric vehicle (EV) boom the demand for nickel is on the rise. With the demand comes the threat to automakers, will there be enough nickel supply?
Nickel is a chemical element and a transition metal. It is mostly used for high-grade steel manufacturing, and increasingly so, in batteries. Global production of nickel from mines was estimated to amount to a total of 2.5 million metric tons in 2020. The major countries in nickel mining include Indonesia, Philippines, Russia, and New Caledonia.

100% of the current supply growth is coming from countries such as Indonesia.
There are two big issues with this:

1)These mines are established by Chinese companies.
2)The carbon footprint for these operations are huge.
Russia has a lot of the nickel and with its unexpected war against the Ukraine, prices of nickel have soared. The London Metal Exchange even had to suspend nickel trading in March after a 250% price hike.
The United States itself is short on nickel resources. The Eagle Mine in Michigan is USA’s primary nickel mine and is expected to close in 2025. With the project pipeline for nickel mining drying up the auto industry is reaching out and begging for help. The world needs to figure out how it is going to acquire a whole lot more nickel if it is going to achieve their ambitious EV targets.
The majority of Nickel has been used in the stainless steel manufacturing process with just shy of 10% of the metal being used in the battery market. That is all about to change. If we look forward 10-15 years the demand could rise to 40-50% which will allow for that much more pressure on the demand for nickel.
With a wake-up call and the lesson we are learning with the Russian invasion on the Ukraine, North American car manufacturers don’t want to place their bet with their companies being dependant on the Chinese supply from Indonesia.
Ontario could help produce the nickel the world requires to meet the auto manufacturers demand for EV batteries. Canada Nickel Company (CNC) is one company that is actively exploring for nickel in northern Ontario. The company is located in Timmins, Ontario with its Crawford Project which is currently in the permitting stages.
The Crawford discovery in just four years is delineated as the fourth largest nickel resource supply globally and if they were mining today it would be the fifth largest nickel sulphide producer globally.


What differentiates Canada Nickels Crawford project to those in Indonesia?

“The Carbon footprint for those operations is very large. What is being done in the processing of their nickel is they are taking a ton of soggy dirt that has about 1% nickel in it and using a huge amount of electricity and in their case coal to be able to turn that dirt out into metal. Therefore, the nickel that is being produced there has about a 50-80 ton CO2 footprint per ton of nickel produced. This is not great for decarbonizing our planet, said Mark Selby, Chairman, CEO and Director of Canada Nickel Company.
The ultramafic discovery which is the host rock for the Crawford mine project spontaneously absorbs CO2. CNC is designing a processing plant that will have the ability to capture and store nearly 20 tons of per ton of nickel produced. This will make CNC one of the largest capture and storage facilities in Canada and one of the largest nickel sulphide mines in the world.
“The difference between nickel sulphides versus laterites is fundamentally in order to process a laterite deposit you would need either use a lot of electricity or a lot of acid to get the material out. When you use a lot of electricity like in Indonesia it`s all coal fired power and that’s how you end up with 50-80 tons of CO2 footprint per ton of nickel produced”, stated Selby.
In Ontario CNC has access to infrastructure and this includes low carbon electricity from the grid. This will allow CNC to design their mining operation to have a very low carbon footprint to start off with. If you add to this;  the rocks they are grinding up into fine particles in order to remove the nickel and once the particles are there they take advantage to inject CO2 in to that state and once the particles see this CO2 they automatically grab it and turn it into this other mineral.
Canada Nickel’s Carbon Capture & Storage program is being integrated into the Crawford Nickel Sulphide Project. The project will be run by an arm of Canada Nickel known as NetZero Metals, to begin the research and development of a processing facility that would be located in Timmins, Ontario.
The Company’s In-Process Tailings (“IPT”) Carbonation process is a novel method for accelerated carbon capture and storage that the Company believes has transformative potential. The latest test work confirms that existing process streams can be utilized for IPT Carbonation which the Company believes should allow it to be timely and cost effectively engineered and incorporated into the flowsheet.
The company has applied for trademarks for the terms NetZero Nickel™, NetZero Cobalt™, and NetZero Iron™ in U.S., Canada, and other jurisdictions related to zero-carbon production of nickel, cobalt, and iron products.
When Mark was asked, do you think Canada has what it takes to become a global leader in nickel production? He says with a smile yes, 100% yes!
“The Federal and the Provincial governments are aware that we have a once in a generation opportunity. Ontario is one of the very few places that manufacture cars. Ontario is also one of the very few places that have the metals and minerals it takes to make those cars and the batteries to feed them. This could set us up for a big new industry. We just got to get moving. And so far so good,” said Mark.  


Mark Selby, Chair and CEO of Canada Nickel will be speaking during the Indigenous Partnerships & Critical Minerals Forum June 7th in Timmins during the Canadian Mining Expo. The conference is filling quickly and seats are limited and includes a lunch. If you are interested in purchasing a ticket, you can get them online at  https://virtex.canadianminingexpo.com/expoactivity/activitypage/type/expoactivity_forum

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Front cover spring 2023



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