Canada and Russia were the largest exporters of nickel in 2021, according to data from the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Canadian foreign sales of this mineral were 3,625 million dollars, an interannual increase of 30.9 percent.
With this, Canada displaced Russia from the first position in the world, after the latter country registered an annual drop of 34%, to 1,996 million dollars.
Following were the United States (2,203 million dollars), Germany (1,576 million), the United Kingdom (1,533 million) and Norway (1,658 million).
According to the Russian company Nornickel, the production of stainless steel is the main area of nickel consumption (more than 70% in 2020).
There are many grades of stainless steel, with austenitic stainless steel being the most common family (more than three quarters of world production), which includes the 300 and 200 series.
The 300 series steels have a higher nickel content, typically ranging from 8 to 12%, but reaching 20% in certain grades.
Nickel in these concentrations improves corrosion resistance and strength over a wide range of operating temperatures, ensures good ductility, resistance to aggressive environments, and makes the metal non-magnetic.
Nornickel, the world’s largest nickel producer, explains that this series is the most versatile and is widely used in the construction, food, chemical, transportation, energy and other industries.
By comparison, the nickel content in the 200 series is reduced by alloying with manganese, and these steels are not complete substitutes for high-nickel grades.
200 series steels are prone to surface corrosion (pitting), are not heat resistant and are not resistant to aggressive environments.
However, due to their lower cost, they are widely used in consumer goods such as home appliances.
Nornickel adds that China and India alone account for more than 90% of global production of 200-series steel.
Although they represent only 1 to 2% of global crude steel production, austenitic-ferritic (duplex) stainless steels also use nickel and are distinguished from other grades by a higher content of chromium (18 to 25%) and molybdenum (1 to 4 percent).