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ASX Nickel Stocks: 5 Biggest Companies

Nickel is a key component in both the industrial and technology sectors.

Traditionally, nickel has been used in alloys such as stainless steel. However, in recent years, growing demand for lithium-ion batteries has brought attention to the base metal's role in the quickly developing battery sector.

In terms of price performance, nickel hit a record of US$100,000 per tonne in March 2022 before the London Metal Exchange had to halt trading — the exchange even had to cancel some trades. Once trading resumed, nickel prices deflated to US$19,333 in mid-July. The metal finished 2022 in the US$25,000 to US$31,000 range, and while it's fallen in 2023 to around the US$20,000 mark, nickel is still at highs not seen since 2011 — the 2022 jump to US$100,000 notwithstanding.

Overall, experts are positive on the outlook for nickel, with stainless steel demand and increasing lithium-ion battery demand predicted to tug prices upward over the next decade. Investors who want to get exposure to these trends may want to consider the biggest ASX nickel stocks by market cap, and the Investing News Network has listed the five largest below.

Data for this list was gathered using TradingView's stock screener. All values were accurate as of November 26, 2023.

1. BHP Group (ASX:BHP)

Market cap: AU$239.25 billion; current share price: AU$47.21

BHP is a diversified mining company with headquarters in Melbourne, Australia. Worldwide, BHP runs dozens of mines that span North and South America and Australia. The company produces nickel sulphide ore out of its operations in Western Australia's Northern Goldfields area. It covers the mining, development and production of nickel until both matte and metal are ready to be shipped to markets. BHP sells over 85 percent of its nickel to the electric vehicle (EV) industry.

BHP is on its way toward net-zero nickel production. In September 2022, its Nickel West division signed a deal with renewable energy company Enel Green Power to begin construction of the Flat Rocks wind farm in Western Australia.The project is set to include 18 wind turbines, which will be the tallest wind turbines in Western Australia. As of October 2023, more than half of the wind turbines were already in place. The Wind Farm Stage 1 is expected to provide enough energy to power both the Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter and Kambalda Concentrator once complete.


Market cap: AU$6.61 billion; current share price: AU$8.74

IGO is a diversified miner that produces several different metals, but its focus is on its 100 percent owned Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation. Nova is located in Western Australia's Fraser Range and primarily produces nickel; its 2023 guidance was set at 23,000 to 25,000 tonnes of nickel. Nova ultimately produced 22,915 tonnes of nickel at a cash cost of AU$3.54 per pound. In 2024, its output is expected to range from 21,500 to 23,500 tonnes of nickel at a cash cost of AU$3.40 to AU$3.90 per pound.

IGO also fully owns the Forrestania Operation and Cosmos Project, both of which also produce nickel and cobalt and are in Western Australia.

3. Nickel Industries (ASX:NIC)

Market cap: AU$3.12 billion; current share price: AU$0.73

New South Wales-based Nickel Industries, formerly Nickel Mines, is a significant producer of nickel pig iron, a critical component in manufacturing stainless steel. The company began producing high-grade nickel matte for EVs in 2022.

Nickel Industries has 80 percent interests in multiple nickel rotary kiln electric furnace (RKEF) operations in Indonesia: Hengjaya Nickel, Oracle Nickel and Ranger Nickel in the Morowali Industrial Park, and Angel Nickel in the Weda Bay Industrial Park. The company also has an 80 percent interest in the Hengjaya nickel mine, located near the Morowali Industrial Park.

In the 2022 financial year, Nickel Industries' RKEF operations produced a combined 473,116 tonnes of nickel pig iron containing 65,336 tonnes of nickel metal. Nickel metal in nickel matte production at Hengjaya Nickel came in at 4,743 tonnes; while it is currently the company's only RKEF project producing nickel matte, a nickel matte converter may be constructed at Oracle Nickel in the future. As for the company's mine, it produced 6.8 million tonnes of ore last year.

In October 2023, the company reached a positive final investment decision for its participation in the Excelsior Nickel Cobalt high-pressure acid leach (HPAL) Project in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. The project is set to produce 72,000 metric tons per year of contained nickel equivalent, including mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP), nickel sulfate and nickel cathode for the electric vehicle (EV) battery market.

4. Centaurus Metals (ASX:CTM)

Market cap: AU$244.95million; current share price: AU$0.49

Centaurus Metals is a mining and development company based in Brazil. According to the company, its goal is to become a major supplier of nickel sulphide to help provide a cleaner and greener future. The company has its sights set on the development of its wholly owned Jaguar project, which is located in Brazil's Carajás mineral province.

Centaurus' most recent mineral resource estimate for Jaguar, which was released in November 2022, comprises 109.2 million tonnes at 0.87 percent nickel. The company expects to update the estimate in Q1 2024. A definitive feasibility study is also expected to be completed by Q1 2024.

In November 2023, the company completed a drilling program at the Jaguar Project. The results indicated robust nickel sulphide mineralization, suggesting potential resource expansion and future underground operations.

5. Lunnon Metals (ASX:LM8)

Market cap: AU$148.68 million; current share price: AU$0.68

Lunnon Metals is an exploration company operating in Western Australia's Kambalda nickel district. Lunnon owns a portfolio of four past-producing nickel mines in the Kambalda nickel project: Foster, Baker, Silver Lake and Fisher.

In May 2023, Lunnon released a prefeasibility study for the Baker project, establishing a probable ore reserve of 612,000 tonnes containing 2.86 percent nickel; that amounts to 17,500 tonnes of contained nickel. The company is focusing on performing studies at Foster, which has 57,000 tonnes of accessible nickel metal, in the second half of 2023.

In December 2023, Lunnon Metals announced its Mineral Resource Estimate for Silver Lake. The MRE showed 824,000 tonnes, 13,800 of which was nickel content. This brought the total in-ground resources for the Kambalda nickel project to 101,600 tonnes of contained nickel.

FAQs for nickel investing

What is nickel used for?

Nickel has a variety of applications. Its main use is as an alloy material for products such as stainless steel, and it is also used for plating metals to reduce corrosion. As its name suggests, nickel is used in coins as well, such as the 5 cent nickel in Australia, the US and Canada; Australian and US nickels are made up of 25 percent nickel and 75 percent copper, while Canada's nickel has nickel plating that makes up 2 percent of its composition.

Nickel demand is increasing from EVs, where the metal is a component of certain lithium-ion battery compositions; it has gotten extra attention thanks to that purpose.

Is nickel a good investment?

Nickel's role in EV batteries has seen it gain increased investor attention. In fact, its price spiked to an all-time high in 2022, and it remains at levels not seen in over a decade. For investors looking to invest in green metals, nickel could be a strong choice, but everyone should perform their own due diligence to decide whether it is the right fit for their portfolio.

How to invest in a nickel ETF?

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) can be a good option for investors who prefer a safer approach to investing in a sector. ETFs can be purchased the same as any other stock, which means you can invest in them using stock brokers and investing apps. Although there are no pure-play nickel ETFs, some ETF options to add the metal to your portfolio include the iShares S&P/TSX Global Base Metals Index ETF (TSX:XBM) and the VanEck Green Metals ETF (ARCA:GMET).

Article by Matthew Flood; FAQs by Lauren Kelly.

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, Matthew Flood, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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


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