Nickel demand from the electric vehicle (EV) sector is expected to grow globally by 2.6mn mt in 2040, up from 92,000mt in 2020. The nickel demand in the European Union is expected to grow by 543,000mt in 2040 from 17,000mt in 2020.
This data by market analyst Roskill was recently released by the Joint Research Centre of European Commission’s Science and Knowledge Service. The reported cited that electrification of vehicles will boost the nickel demand in the next twenty years.
The rise in nickel use will be backed by increased usage of high nickel cathode chemistries for OEMs in 27 countries of European Union (EU27), starting from mid-to-late 2020s and throughout the decade, mentioned the report.
The Roskill report stated that there is not much knowledge about the new projects supplying Class I and intermediate nickel products ahead of 2020. The batteries require nickel sulphate and the same can be produced from suitable feedstock forms. In a decade from now, the end of life batteries would become a source of raw material to produce nickel sulphate.
Deficit to hit in 2024-25
EU27 can meet the internal demand until 2024-25 but later the demand deficit is likely to emerge.
The supply security of nickel for first-use basis for precursor and cathode makers is a concern, and if end of life recycling industry is not established, supply deficit may be felt from 2027.
The report suggested a two-pronged approach — one pertaining to primary nickel (mining and refining) supply and, second, underpinned by EOL recycling in a circular economy.
Challenges for EU
EU27 will have to secure primary nickel supply globally in the view of lack of development-ready nickel deposits within EU27.
The report findings suggest that €4.4bn and €7.5bn investment is needed by 2030-2040 to cover nickel demand from EV sales.
The experts at Roskill are of the opinion that a series of policies are needed addressing reduction in the demand of primary nickel by establishing domestic and global supply strategy, and investing in research and development.