Various public and private statistical services track the production and end-use of nickel. The divisions vary and all percentages are “best estimates” but the 2006 numbers given below provide reasonable breakdowns.
Figure 1 (Pariser, 2007) shows nickel use by industry sector. It indicates that almost 80 percent of all nickel is used in the production of different stainless and alloy steels, other nickel alloys (of which there are thousands) and foundry products. About eleven percent is used in plated products, and the remaining ten percent goes into catalysts, battery chemistries of various types, coinage, pigments and literally thousands of other small chemical uses. There is a constant stream of new uses for nickel where small uses of nickel are providing gains in environmental (including energy efficiency and carbon emission) performance.
Most of the plating and “other” applications are “end-uses” of nickel; that is to say, the products are used directly by the customer or “end-user.”
The steels and other nickel alloys, on the other hand, are “intermediate” products that must be further processed or “transformed” into end-use commercial products in a number of industrial applications. These applications include building and construction materials; tubes; metal goods; transportation, electrical and electronic; engineering; and consumer and other products (Figure 2) (Pariser, 2007).
Only the most superficial description of nickel production and use are given here and only to provide context for the occupational health management issues that are the focus of this publication. For more information on nickel production and use, including end-of-life management, of nickel and nickel-containing materials and products, contact the Nickel Institute at: www.nickelinstitute.org.