Nickel is an important industrial metal with a wide variety of uses, the majority being used in alloying ferrous and non-ferrous metals. These can range from exotic alloy systems such as super-alloys which are used in high temperature turbine blades to more mundane applications such as low alloy steels.
In ferrous alloy systems small amounts of Nickel increases the toughness of low and medium carbon steels. When Nickel is used in conjunction with other elements such as Chrome and Molybdenum it allows for a vast variety of mechanical properties to be obtained. If Nickel is added in higher amounts it allows fully austenitic structures to remain stable at room temperature. This finds application in the stainless-steel sector to produce the corrosion resistant yet tough 3XX series of stainless steels. The ferrous sector is currently the largest user of Nickel.
In the non-ferrous sector the largest user of Nickel is the copper industry. There it is either used on its own or in conjunction with other alloys to increase the strength and hardness as well as the corrosion resistance of copper alloys.
Nickel is also used as a wear and corrosion resistant coating through electro-plating and plasma deposition coatings.
Mineral-loy distributes Nickel Briquettes produced by Impala Platinum. This metal is co-deposited together with Copper and Cobalt in the platinum group metals (PGM) ores, which is stripped out of solution at their Precious Metals Refinery before being transferred to the Base Metals Refinery. Here Copper is removed via electro-deposition while Nickel and Cobalt are precipitated out of solution using autoclaving technology.
The Nickel produced falls within the LME grade 1 purity range and is precipitated as a coarse powder which can be sold and used in its powder form to certain industries. The majority is however briquetted and sintered to produce a product which can be used in a much wider field of application, most notably as a melt addition in the ferrous metal industry.