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Western Australia is a key Australian jurisdiction when it comes to nickel. Find out which major nickel stocks in Western Australia investors should watch.

Nickel gets a lot of love these days. Besides its applications as a base metal, it's discovering a rising popularity as an electric vehicle metal thanks to its role in battery technology.

Nickel is a vital component in lithium-ion batteries, which are seeing "hockey stick"-like production rates around the world as electric vehicles become more prevalent.

According to the Australian government, the country holds around 19.7 million tonnes in economic demonstrated reserves of the metal, making it a top nation for nickel reserves, as well as a top nation for nickel production with 180,000 tonnes produced in 2019.


2020 saw a small dip to 170,000 tonnes (thanks to the pandemic and impacts on supply lines), but Australia is still ranked fifth globally behind the likes of Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia and New Caledonia.

The key jurisdiction within Australia when it comes to nickel is the mining behemoth Western Australia, where the top mining company in the world — BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BHP) — operates three huge mines. It makes sense that most nickel activity would be there, as the state accounts for a whopping 90 percent of Australia's economic reserves of the metal.

How and why to invest in nickel stocks in Western Australia

Western Australia is an attractive jurisdiction, and has been ranked highly by the Fraser Institute for many years in a row — most recently it came in fourth place in 2020 (after falling from first in 2019).

To get exposure to the companies operating in Western Australia, investors will need to go through the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), or through a dual-listed company in their country of origin. Here's a handy guide on how to go about investing in companies on this Australian exchange.

Nickel stocks in Australia are almost all operating in Western Australia, with only a handful of companies elsewhere in the country. The top mines overall in the nation are Ravensthorpe, Murrin Murrin and Mount Keith, which are owned and operator by Canada's First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM,OTC Pink:FQVLF), the Anglo-Swiss Glencore (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) and BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BHP), respectively.

Each company is ploughing millions into the region in order to get the most out of the jurisdiction, as Australia's competitors are less developed, less reliable and more risky investments.

The outlook for nickel in Australia, and therefore Western Australia, is bright. The export value for the metal stood at AU$4,285 million in 2018, as per government data, and economic reserves show that Australia will remain a major nickel player well into the future — at 2018 rates of production, Australia would be able maintain the same output level for 133 years.

Major nickel stocks in Western Australia to watch

Which nickel stocks are both listed on the ASX and operating in Western Australia? The key operator is of course BHP, which contributes a huge share of Australia's entire nickel output. Here's a look at BHP and its nickel compatriots in the state.

All market cap and share price information was accurate as of July 15, 2021.

1. BHP

Market cap: AU$238.57 billion; current share price: AU$51.53

In 2020, all the nickel companies in Australia produced 170,000 tonnes of nickel. For its part, BHP reported production of 80,000 tonnes during the 12 months ended on June 30, 2020 — while that period of course doesn't overlap completely with the full 2020 calendar year, BHP can comfortably claim to produce almost half of Australia's nickel.

In Western Australia, BHP has both high- and low-grade ore sources, with high-grade ore coming from the Cliffs and Leinster underground mines and the Rocky's Reward open-pit mine, and low-grade ore coming from the Mount Keith open-pit mine. All ore is processed at Leinster, and is concentrated at a plant at Kambalda for sale to third parties, making BHP a vertically integrated operation wholly within Western Australia.

2. IGO (ASX:IGO)

Market cap: AU$6.54 billion; current share price: AU$8.64

IGO is the owner and operator of the Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation in the Fraser Range, which is between Kalgoorlie and Esperance. Discovered in 2012, the project got going quick, moving through construction to reach nameplate capacity by Q4 2017. In 2020, the mine produced over 30,000 tonnes of nickel (along with over 13,000 tonnes of copper and 1,100 tonnes of cobalt).

3. Mincor Resources (ASX:MCR)

Market cap: AU$493.14 million; current share price: AU$1.14

Mincor Resources is the owner of the Kambalda nickel operation, which is made up of three mines in South-Central Western Australia. Kambalda is not fully operating, but the company hopes to report the first nickel-in-concentrate output by the first quarter of 2022, according to a definitive feasibility study released in early 2020. One of the mines at the complex opened officially in March 2021. The company plans for nickel ore to be processed through BHP's facilities and sold on to the larger company.

Besides the big three companies above (and the Canadian and Anglo-Swiss operators in the state), other nickel companies on the ASX operating in Western Australia are Azure Minerals (ASX:AZS), Ardea Resources (ASX:ARL,OTC Pink:ARRRF), Poseidon Nickel (ASX:POS) and Auroch Minerals (ASX:AOU).

For more on Australia's nickel landscape, click the links below:

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

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

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Gold isn't all that glitters in the land down under — silver in Australia is a major industry, and the country is home to both large and small players.

When it comes to precious metals, Australia has long punched above its weight — the nation was born riding the wave of a gold rush.

Gold isn't all that glitters through — Australia is also a major global producer of silver. It's among the 10 top producers, and was ranked seventh in 2020, with 1,300 tonnes coming from the many operational mines in the country. By comparison, the world's top producer, Mexico, produced 6,300 tonnes that same year.

Other key players in the silver market are Peru, China and Russia, which produce more silver than Australia, and the US, Argentina and Bolivia, which produce less.


Australia is sitting on quite a lot of the precious metal, with the world's second largest reserves, behind only Peru.

According to Geoscience Australia, one of the country's first mines was a silver-lead mine near Adelaide. Since then, the entire continent has been combed over with a fine-toothed comb, with deposits identified in every state and territory and active mines in every jurisdiction but one (Victoria).

Overall, Australia is well explored when it comes to silver, and since the mid-1800s it's had a constant stream of silver production. Aside from that, the country boasts metals-processing facilities in South Australia that separate the precious metal from its commonly mined counterpart metals, lead and zinc.

Silver companies in Australia

Those looking at the Australian silver market have options. There are plenty of big players with interests in Australian silver, and many smaller players for investors to consider researching too.

Most silver comes from mines dedicated to other metals — Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa in Queensland produces mainly copper, zinc and lead, but silver is separated by the company's integrated processing streams. Glencore also operates the McArthur mine in the Northern Territory, which is primarily zinc, but between its copper and zinc assets, Glencore produced 7,404,000 ounces of silver in Australia in 2020 — over 200 tonnes.

Elsewhere, BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) produces a lot of silver as well at the Olympic Dam operation in South Australia. Perhaps best known for the production of uranium and copper, it also yields significant silver resources to the tune of 984,000 ounces in 2020 (or almost 28 tonnes).

According to Geoscience Australia data from 2016, over 20 mines in Australia produced silver in that year, while there are dozens of other resources identified in each state.

A primary producer of silver is the Cannington mine in Queensland, where South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF), a company that was spun off from BHP in 2015, mines silver and lead. Cannington is a big one, producing 11,792,000 ounces in 2020, or 334 tonnes of silver.

Tasmania boasts the Rosebery mine, which has seen 85 years of continuous operations and is currently owned by MMG (ASX:MMG,HKEX:1208). Rosebery, like all the others here, is polymetallic, and besides silver also produces copper, zinc, lead and gold. MMG also has the Dugald River mine in Queensland which also produced silver.

Getting into smaller companies, there are those like New Century Resources (ASX:NCZ) which restarted the Century mine in the Northern Territory for zinc and silver.

The future of silver in Australia

So, you get the picture — there's a lot of silver to be mined in Australia by way of mining everything else.

It's worth noting that because silver operates both as a precious and an industrial metal, and is mined most often alongside base metals, it can be pulled in many directions. However, it traditionally follows (and lags behind) its precious metal sibling, gold, making it a valuable investment commodity to keep an eye on.

Looking forward, the future of the commodity in the land down under — especially given Australia's significant reserves and operator diversity — is as bright as you'd like it, and depends on what investors are most interested in, given the by-product nature of the metal.

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

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

Australia took a stand against Facebook and Google earlier this year, and the move could have long-term implications for tech investors.

It was a ban that sent Australians wild and had the whole world watching.

Back in February, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stopped users in Australia from posting news in a week-long blackout, reacting to proposed legislation that would have forced the social media behemoth to pay publishers for content.

What prompted Facebook to "friend" Australia again, and what are the potential long-term implications of the squabble? Read on to learn what tech-focused investors in Australia should know about the situation.


Australia squares off against Facebook

On February 25 of this year, Australia's federal government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is aimed at ensuring that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for their content.

It stipulates that digital platforms such as Facebook and Google (both named in the documentation) must pay news outlets whose content they feature — for example, if content is shared on Facebook or shows up in Google search results. The idea is that this will help to sustain journalism in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Google didn't react well to the code, which was first introduced in 2020.

Google didn't make any moves after it passed, but Facebook quickly made it impossible for Australian users to share news content, and pages for both local and international news organisations went blank — a major concern given the COVID-19 and wildfire concerns that were circulating at the time.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scathing about Facebook's decision — which he ironically shared in a Facebook post — declaring the tech giant's actions "as arrogant as they were disappointing." He added, "These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Despite strong feelings from both Australia and Facebook, the dispute was resolved fairly quickly, with the country agreeing to make four amendments to the legislation and Facebook restoring Australian's access to news.

Implications for Big Tech and news organisations

Both Australia and Facebook have claimed victory in the dispute, with a Facebook representative saying the company will be able to decide if news appears on the platform — meaning it won't automatically have to negotiate with any news businesses. Changes were also made to the arbitration process.

Tech experts have pointed out that larger news companies may ultimately benefit from the changes, but smaller ones could be pushed to the side. Major publishers that have struck agreements with tech giants, such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC,OTC Pink:NNMTF), Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Guardian Australia, may be able to increase their market share while smaller independent players lose out.

A business that is in full support of the laws is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). During the conflict, President Brad Smith came out loudly in favour of Australia's law, and advised that his company is willing to step up with search engine Bing should Google and/or Facebook pull out of the Australian market.

"In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward. Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content," he said in a blog post.

"The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead."

Global reach and tech investor impact

Six months down the road from Australia's landmark legislation, it's tough to say what the long-term impact may be.

That said, market watchers do believe the country is part of a new precedent of forcing Big Tech into paying for journalism — something giants Facebook and Google are not used to.

Countries looking to pursue similar legislation include Canada, where Facebook agreed in May to pay 14 publishers to link to their articles on its COVID-19 and climate science pages, as well as other unspecified use cases. Canada is pursuing other avenues too. Meanwhile, in France, Google said it will pay publishers for news content after the country took up new EU copyright laws that make digital platforms liable for infringements.

For investors, the takeaway is perhaps that while companies like Facebook and Google may seem too big too fail, they too can fall subject to new regulations that can change how they do business. As nations around the world look to take back control from these mega companies, it's important to be aware of possible effects on their bottom lines.

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

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

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