Nickel is a chemical element used in manufacturing of high-grade steel and other metal goods in several sectors including power generation, telecommunications, food equipment, and medical machines because of its desirable properties such as better corrosion resistance compared to other metals. Global consumption of nickel varies from country to country depending on the level of industrialization as well as the existence of major sectors where nickel is an important raw material. The world’s largest consumers of nickel in some cases produce their nickel although there are net importers; that is they import more than they produce. These are some of the major consumers of nickel.
Top Nickel Consuming Countries
China is the largest consumer of nickel globally utilizing 50.4% of global production. It majorly uses the metal in the production of stainless steel alongside chromium. About 85% goes directly into this because of its ability to resist corrosion and stabilization of the steel at room temperature, chromium is the element that makes the steel "stainless." Another use of nickel in China is plating where a layer of nickel is applied on the surface of a metal to provide water resistance, corrosion resistance, or to salvage worn out parts of machinery. Other ways in which China utilizes nickel also include making alloys and in the manufacture of batteries.
The United States is the second biggest consumer in the world even though China is ahead by a huge margin. The USA utilizes 8.1% of the world's produced nickel in several of its sectors including stainless steel like China. Perhaps the most known use of nickel in the US is in the manufacture of coins, and it is combined with other metals such as copper. Nickel use has also increased with the advent of new technologies in transport and communication such as hybrid vehicles, battery units for portable computers, and making power tools.
China’s huge demand for nickel has a direct effect on Japan as the third largest consumer of nickel in the world. It utilizes 7.5% of total global nickel production. Japan uses nickel in different manufacturing processes such as nickel hydride batteries. They are rechargeable which makes them a viable energy source, and this goes hand in hand with the manufacture of ferronickel by combination with iron to manufacture stainless steel just like China, and this has led to scrambling for nickel between Japan and China since they import from the same countries including the Philippines.
Sustainable and Long-Term Use of Nickel
Nickel is a versatile metal whose applications cut across several sectors. It is easy to work with and stands adverse environments like chemical industries and petroleum plants. Other major consumers of nickel include South Korea, Germany, Italy, and Taiwan. Currently, there are about 23 major countries which produce nickel for large-scale commercial use; these include Russia, Canada, Indonesia, and South Africa. Technology continues to improve daily and this will ultimately create more uses for nickel, and this is where more sustainable methods of extraction, as well as alternative metals and alloys, will be used to ensure the global supply of nickel does not run out.