The Australian nickel industry is facing significant challenges, with falling prices leading to job losses and impacting companies like Panoramic Resources. The industry’s struggles have been exacerbated by the booming nickel sector in Indonesia and a slower-than-anticipated uptake of electric vehicles.
Mining groups, including the Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA, are urging the Federal Government to intervene and support the nation’s nickel industry. They advocate for pricing mechanisms that favor commodities with greener credentials, recognizing the environmental efforts of Western Australian producers.
Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King has expressed support for a pricing structure that would grant a premium for green nickel. This approach aligns with the increasing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) awareness among customers and the market’s evolving preferences.
Efforts Toward Sustainable Production
Western Australian nickel operations are moving towards more sustainable production methods. An example is BHP Nickel West, which is investing in wind and solar projects to power its major nickel processing operations in the region.
Despite hopes that their environmental credentials would differentiate Western producers from larger, less eco-friendly competitors, industry veterans like Poseidon Nickel chair Peter Harold have noted that this distinction has yet to materialize in market pricing.
The addition of nickel to the Federal Government’s critical minerals list in December was seen as a potential boost for the struggling producers. Although nickel was placed on a secondary “strategic minerals” list, it is understood that projects under this category may still be eligible for Federal funding.