The Australian nickel industry has been encouraged to take the opportunity for growth in the face of market challenges the metal faces.
Nickel Institute Brisbane director, market development Richard Matheson addressed the Paydirt 2019 Australian Nickel Conference in Perth yesterday, speaking about the opportunity to defend the nickel market share.
Matheson said in an era of emerging applications such as electric vehicle batteries, energy storage, food and water applications, there was huge potential for growth within the industry, despite the threats it faced.
“This opportunity is being driven by mega trends in population growth and the need for ‘more of everything’,” Matheson explained.
“So many parts of the world are urbanising quickly, and massive migrations of people are elevating demand for more housing, more energy, more food and more clean water, all of which has to be delivered in sustainable ways.
“The scope of nickel’s properties is excellent for assisting these needs.”
Matheson said the threats to nickel were very clear, as it was regarded as a high-cost metal and faced competition from other materials being used as a substitute, so education was key.
“There are perceptions of high cost (and) a lack of knowledge about the metal even though it is used everywhere,” he said.
“This is particularly true for new, young engineers coming through industry who are not aware of nickel’s potential.
“The environment in which specification occurs is evolving, and like all topics even social media plays a role.
“This is why the Institute is particularly focussed on marketing and education in China, India and South East Asia, so it can change perceptions and elevate nickel in the head space of those designing and manufacturing new applications.”
Despite these challenges, nickel is resilient, with a growth of approximately 5-6 per cent per year during the past decade.