Environmental and Economic Activities

The INSG secretariat is engaged in a wide range of projects touching on the environmental and economic aspects of the nickel market. The secretariat frequently publishes reports on these topics. In this section, some of the reports and other work are described.

The Market for Nickel

INSG periodically publishes a market situation report entitled “The Market for Nickel: The Fundamentals Driving Change”. This report summarized developments in nickel demand, supply, international trade, price and stock movements as well as environmental regulation. Editions of this report have been issued in 2008, updated in 2010 and again in 2012. The report provides information on topics including: Trends in World Supply and Demand, Mine Production, Refined Metal Production, Secondary Supply, Principal End Uses, International Trade, Historic Price and Stock Movements and Environmental Regulations.

Environment Health and Safety (EHS) issues affecting nickel

Nickel mining, production, processing, use and recycling are subject to various legislative initiatives from national and international authorities as well as voluntary agreements. The INSG secretariat provides an updated summary of such regulations annually, presented at the April meeting of the Environmental and Economic Committee. The secretariat also invites speakers to address important new issues. Beginning in 2009, the secretariat has issued an annual publication providing a summary of existing legislation and other initiatives affecting nickel, which is easily assessable by non-experts. The secretariat will continue to monitor new legislative actions and collect information relating to developments in INSG member countries and other countries. Members are invited to bring to the attention of the Secretariat any proposed or actual changes in regulations affecting nickel.

Nickel Recycling

Only a small proportion of nickel is recycled in its metallic form in the nickel industry; more than 95% is recycled in alloy form in first-use industries. Work on recycling is ongoing. The INSG secretariat is in contact with ILZSG and ICSG on recycling work. In October 2014 a Joint Seminar of the three Study Groups was held in Lisbon on the topic of ‘Recycling of Nonferrous Metals’. The secretariat expects to continue to work on this topic.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development includes a wide range of activities and programs by governments and industry. The secretariat monitors developments in this area on an ongoing basis and invites speakers to make presentations at meetings of the E & E Committee. The secretariat has maintained contact with the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development, a grouping of 43 countries that in involved in the UNCSD process. Representatives of the secretariat have attended meetings organized by the Forum and will continue to keep in touch.

By-products and Co-products of Lead, Zinc, Copper and Nickel

INSG has worked in cooperation with the other two Study Groups, ICSG and ILZSG, to gather information on the supply of metals produced as by-products or co-products of the four metals which are the primary focus of the Study Groups. The by-products include: cobalt, scandium, palladium and other platinum group metals (PGMs) from nickel production; indium and germanium from zinc production; and molybdenum, rhenium, tellurium and selenium from copper production. A study on by-product metals was published in 2012 and is available for purchase. In addition, concise reports have been prepared on 12 by-product metals, and these reports are available to the public. In recent years use of minor/speciality metals has expanded rapidly, but information is lacking on the outlook of supply and long term sustainability of these metals in the economy. Metals which previously had little or no economic value may become quite valuable or even critical in some new industrial processes and products, including for example the renewable energy, aerospace and information-communications technology sectors. The production of these previously less important metals may have an impact on the cost of production of the principal metals. Information gathered for the study includes:
  • Identifying the metals that are produced as by-products and co-products of mining or smelting/refining
  • Trends in usage of these metals (by tonnage and value)
  • Outlook for supply
  • Outlook for demand, including emerging uses
  • Historic price trends
  • Government proposals for stockpiles, trade policy, R & D, etc.
  • The REACH status of each of the metals.

Cobalt as a By-Product of Copper and Nickel

A joint report of the International Nickel Study Group and the International Copper Study Group on cobalt was published in March 2014. This study provides detailed information on cobalt, and the relationship between nickel, copper and cobalt production, refining and use. This 85-page report furnishes data on production and usage through 2012 as well as an outlook for cobalt mine capacity and production for the period 2012 to 2018. Information on end-of-life recycling rates for cobalt-bearing products is also included.

Report on Taxation and Fiscal Incentives of Copper, Zinc, Lead and Nickel

In January 2014, ILZSG, INSG and ICSG published a joint report providing an in-depth analysis of taxation and fiscal incentives applied to non-ferrous metals in the major mining and metals producing countries. The research was carried out by Raw Materials Group (RMG) of Sweden on behalf of the Study Groups. The report is intended to be a valuable reference document for governments and companies.

Report on Risk Factors

An authoritative study examining a wide range of issues and risks currently affecting the development of mineral and metals projects. The approach is global with a particular focus on copper, lead, zinc and nickel. The report covers all aspects of the metals producing sector including mining, smelting and refining and was undertaken by Oakdene Hollins of the UK on behalf of the ILZSG, ICSG and INSG. 84 pages. Published January 2014.

Nickel – A Surface Technology Material 2014

This report, carried out by Heinz Pariser on behalf of INSG, provides an overview of the use of nickel metal in the plating and surface treatment industry, a sector that accounts for about 10 percent of nickel usage. Various processes used in nickel plating are covered in detail, including electroplating, vapor deposition and zinc-nickel plating. Data is furnished on the surface technology industry in various regions and on the major uses of plating such as the automotive sector, electro and electronics. The report also provides contact information for the most important companies in the various stages of nickel plating. Information on regulations covering Environment, Health and Safety is provided as well. The report is 82 pages in length and was published in July 2014.

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