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Nickel is shaping up to be a vital metal in the age of technology. Here's a look at the five top ASX nickel-mining stocks by market cap.

Nickel is a diverse metal that is critical for both industry and technology.

While this lustrous, silvery base metal has historically been used to produce alloys such as stainless steel, its battery applications have become a major focus. Nickel is used to produce lithium-ion batteries, an essential component of electric vehicles (EVs) — a booming market that is sure to continue growing in the next decade.

Nickel prices rose steadily in 2021, soaring above US$20,000 per tonne as demand shot up after a period of decline in 2020. Analyst predictions for how the global nickel space will fare in 2022 are mixed, but in general stainless steel should continue driving the market, with nickel’s battery applications ramping up as EV sales accelerate.

Investors interested in nickel might look to Australia, the country that boasts the largest reserves of the metal worldwide. Read on to learn about the top five nickel companies on the ASX, ranked by market capitalization. All data was obtained on January 12, 2022, using TradingView's stock screener.

1. Independence Group

Market cap: AU$8.85 billion; current share price: AU$12

IGO (ASX:IGO) is a diversified miner that produces several different metals, but its focus is on its 100 percent owned Nova nickel-copper-cobalt project. Nova is based in Western Australia's Fraser Range and primarily produces nickel, with output of 30,436 tonnes of nickel in 2020 and 2021 guidance of 27,000 to 29,000 tonnes.

IGO is currently in talks to acquire Western Areas (ASX:WSA), another top Australian nickel-mining company, for AU$3.36 per share, which equates to AU$1.1 billion.

2. Nickel Mines

Market cap: AU$3.66 billion; current share price: AU$1.55

New South Wales-based Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC) produces nickel pig iron, a critical component in the manufacturing of stainless steel. The company is invested in several nickel-mining operations, with 80 percent interests in the Hengjaya nickel project, Ranger nickel project, Angel nickel project and Hengjaya Mineralindo nickel mine.

In December 2021, the company entered into an agreement to acquire 70 percent of Shanghai Decent’s Oracle nickel project. This project has the capacity for annual production of 36,000 tonnes of nickel, and the acquisition is set to be completed sometime in early 2022.

3. Western Areas

Market cap: AU$1.09 billion; current share price: AU$3.40

Western Areas (ASX:WSA) has several nickel-mining operations across Western Australia, such as its flagship Forrestania nickel project, which produces between 22,000 and 25,000 tonnes of nickel ore per year. The company's other nickel-focused assets include the Flying Fox and Odysseus nickel mines.

As mentioned, news hit in December 2021 that IGO plans to acquire Western Areas. The acquisition is still pending approval from Western Areas shareholders, but IGO expects it will be completed by April 2022.

4. Mincor Resources

Market cap: AU$864.56 million; current share price: AU$1.86

Mincor Resources (ASX:MCR) is set to commence nickel production at its Western Australia-based Kambalda nickel operations beginning in the first quarter of 2022. The company is also continuing to develop its Cassini nickel mine, as well as the Durkin North and Long projects at its Northern operations.

In mid-December 2021, Mincor Resources announced the extraction of the first ore at Durkin North, a positive sign that the project is on track for nickel production. Moreover, the ore was found about 36 metres ahead of the target site, suggesting that there may be another orebody to discover.

5. Panoramic Resources

Market cap: AU$553.75 million; current share price: AU$0.27

Perth-based base metals mining and exploration company Panoramic Resources (ASX:PAN) suspended operations at its 100 percent owned Savannah nickel sulphide mine in 2020, citing operational and pandemic-related issues as reasons for the closure. In April 2021, the company announced that it would be reopening Savannah.

In late December 2021, Savannah successfully completed its first shipment, which consisted of 10,865 tonnes of nickel-copper-cobalt to be delivered to Jinchuan Group International Resources (OTC Pink:JGRRF,HKEX:2362) for payment of AU$20.4 million. A second shipment is expected for February 2022.

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2018.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Isabel Armiento, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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