December 08, 2015
For its 1972 publicationThe Limits to Growth, the globally recognised think tank Club of Rome commissioned an assessment of raw materials depletion. The report concluded that society will shortly run out of uranium and carbon-based energy sources, as well as metallic raw materials. Although resource depletion in the 1972-2100 time frame of the report was proved inaccurate, the concept found wide recognition.
Various stakeholders put resource depletion in the focus of policy action, including the United Nations at the 2012 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Rio de Janeiro. Non-governmental stakeholders, such as standardisation bodies, also stepped up their activity to take into account resource depletion. Looked at from a supply risk or from a sustainability perspective, nickel products in this scenario could be regarded as ‘scarce’.
In response to these challenges, the Nickel Institute has compiled concrete, recent figures concerning the nickel reserve and resource situation. The resulting infographic clearly demonstrates that—just taking into account known reserves and resources and assuming an increase in nickel production—there is enough nickel available for 100 years.
Yet this is not the full picture. There are still potential resources such as nickel deposits at the bottom of oceans yet to be explored, which will significantly increase the future availability of nickel. Because nickel is highly recyclable, nickel-containing products contribute to sustainable develop-ment and resource efficiency once they reach the end of their life. The numbers also show that more than half of the nickel historically mined is still in use and will be available for recycling, ensuring that existing nickel remains available for use by future generations.
Download the infographic.
Sources and Terminology
The terminology used accords with internationally recognised economic geological definitions.
1. Heinz H. Pariser, Alloy Metals & Steel, Market Research (2014)—Nickel, a surface technology material, INGS
2. Mudd and Jowitt (2014)—A detailed assessment of global nickel resource trends and endowments. In: Economic Geology v. 109 pp 1813-1841
3. British Geological Survey (2008)—Nickel Commodity Profile (https://www.bgs.ac.uk/downloads/start.cfm?id=1411)
4. Reck B. and Graedel T. (2012)—Challenges in metals recycling. Science 337, 690 (2012); DOI: 10.1126/science.1217501