nickel mining From tools to technology, mining has evolved from near-primitive methods to a highly advanced, technology-based process allowing us to increase nickel production ten times over. Compact mining equipment that’s cost-effective and stands up to the test of time has positively impacted mining efficiency and production. One of the many benefits of this progress is the reduction of waste and dangerous chemicals.   Although nickel is documented being used as far back as 3500 BC by Syrians who used a small amount and in 235 BC by the Chinese who minted coins from nickel, nickel mining itself is relatively new compared to other mined materials. Dating back to 17th century Germany, nickel was discovered in a red-colored ore that German miners believed was copper. When their analyzation revealed it to be something else, they dubbed the material “kupfernickel”, which means “Old Nick’s Copper” or false copper. It wasn’t until nearly 200 years later that nickel’s true value was recognized. As an alloy material, nickel gives other metals the hardness, strength and corrosion resistance they need. Nickel is now recognized as one of the most valuable mined materials in the 20th and 21st centuries, making nickel mining an important industry.  

The Basics of Nickel Mining and Processing

Where metals are involved, nickel is an important material in our lives. From every day home to life to high volume businesses, we use nickel more often than we realize. This reveals the importance of nickel mining and its impact on daily life.

What is Nickel Used For?

  • for marking steel
  • super alloys and alloys
  • stainless steel products
  • coins
  • rechargeable batteries
  • alnico magnets
  • green-tinted glass
  • electric guitar strings
  • as a binder in tungsten carbide
  • nickel foam and nickel mesh
 

Where Does Nickel Mining Occur?

A naturally occurring material, nickel is mined in 23 countries around the world. Of these, some of the most important nickel mining places are located in Russia, Canada, Australia – such as Mincor, near Kambalda, Indonesia, China, South Africa and Columbia. Refineries are located in Finland, Norway, Japan, France and the United Kingdom. More than 1.4 million tons of primary or new nickel is produced worldwide. This compares to 800 million tons of steel and 10 million tons of copper.  

The Nickel Mining Process

Nickel mining occurs through extractive metallurgy, which is a material science that covers various types of ore, the washing process, concentration and separation, chemical processes and the extraction process. One of the most well-known purification processes is called the Mond Process, which is an extracting and purifying process developed by Ludwig Mond in 1899.   See our complete mining series:
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