Nickel exports by country totaled US$2.9 billion in 2017, down by -26.7% for all nickel ores shippers over the five-year period starting in 2014. Globally, the value of exported nickel increased by an average 18.2% from 2017 to 2018.
Resistant to corrosion, nickel is used in stainless steel, magnets, coins, rechargeable batteries as well as plating on plumbing fixtures and a green tint in glass.
Among continents, Asian countries sold the highest dollar worth of exported nickel during 2018 with shipments valued at $1.1 billion or 37.4% of the global total. In second place were Oceania exporters at 21.4% led by New Caledonia and Australia while 14% of worldwide nickel shipments originated from Africa. Smaller percentages came from Europe (12.3%), North America (12.2%) and Latin America (2.6%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
The 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix is 2604 for nickel ores and concentrates.
Top Nickel Exports by Country
Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of nickel during 2018.
- Indonesia: US$628 million (21.5% of total nickel exports)
- Philippines: $458.2 million (15.7%)
- New Caledonia: $432.8 million (14.8%)
- Zimbabwe: $394.1 million (13.5%)
- United States: $222 million (7.6%)
- Finland: $216.5 million (7.4%)
- Australia: $193.7 million (6.6%)
- Canada: $135 million (4.6%)
- Belgium: $85.1 million (2.9%)
- Guatemala: $76.7 million (2.6%)
- Russia: $38.2 million (1.3%)
- Ivory Coast: $15.3 million (0.5%)
- Germany: $10 million (0.3%)
- Albania: $6.6 million (0.2%)
- Singapore: $5.7 million (0.2%)
The listed 15 countries shipped 99.8% of all nickel exports in 2017 by value.
Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing nickel exporters since 2014 were: Russia (up 19,372%), Belgium (up 15,174%), Indonesia (up 631%) and Singapore (up 476%).
Four countries posted declines in their exported nickel sales were namely: Philippines (down -73.3%), Australia (down -71.7%), Guatemala (down -29.8%) and Canada (down -22.7%).
The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for nickel during 2018. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the surplus between the value of each country’s exported nickel and its import purchases for that same commodity.
- Indonesia: US$628 million (net export surplus up 631% since 2014)
- Philippines: $457.6 million (down -73.4%)
- New Caledonia: $432.8 million (up 63.5%)
- Zimbabwe: $394.1 million (up 11.2%)
- United States: $221.8 million (up 324.1%)
- Australia: $193.7 million (down -71.7%)
- Guatemala: $76.7 million (down -29.8%)
- Russia: $38.2 million (reversing a -$54.6 million deficit)
- Finland: $31.8 million (reversing a -$381 million deficit)
- Ivory Coast: $15.3 million (no 2014 data)
- Albania: $6.6 million (up 1.6%)
- Singapore: $5.6 million (up 509%)
- Germany: $4.7 million (up 124.7%)
- Belgium: $3.6 million (reversing a -$162,000 deficit)
- Norway: $1.2 million (down -57.7%)
Eclipsing the Philippines in 2018, Indonesia had the highest surplus in the international trade of nickel. In turn, this positive cashflow confirms the strong Indonesian competitive advantage for this specific product category.
The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for nickel during 2018. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the deficit between the value of each country’s imported nickel purchases and its exports for that same commodity.
- China: -US$3 billion (net export deficit down -35% since 2014)
- South Korea: -$234.6 million (up 67%)
- Japan: -$215 million (down -42.4%)
- North Macedonia: -$72.2 million (down -33.4%)
- Ukraine: -$69.3 million (down -9.5%)
- Canada: -$55.1 million (reversing a $77.4 million surplus)
- Italy: -$1.3 million (reversing a $514,000 surplus)
- Romania: -$450,000 (up 782.4%)
- Greece: -$388,000 (reversing a $3,000 surplus)
- Brazil: -$381,000 (reversing a $140.3 million surplus)
- Panama: -$264,000 (no 2014 data)
- Tunisia: -$123,000 (no 2014 data)
- Malaysia: -$91,000 (reversing a $501,000 surplus)
- Portugal: -$76,000 (reversing a $1,000 surplus)
- Vietnam: -$45,000 (reversing an $86.4 million surplus)
China incurred the highest deficit in the international trade of nickel. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights China’s competitive disadvantage for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for nickel-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful demand.
Nickel Producing Companies
Below are 10 of the largest nickel producers that represent established players engaged in the international trade of nickel. Their home country for each company’s headquarters is shown within parenthesis.
- Norilsk Nickel (Russia)
- Vale (Brazil)
- BHP Billiton (Australia)
- Jinchuan Group (China)
- Glencore (Switzerland)
- Sherritt International (Canada)
- Eramet (France)
- Sumitomo Metal Mining (Japan)
- Anglo American (UK/South Africa)
- Minara Resources (Australia)
According to global trading platform Alibaba, the following suppliers are also examples of nickel ore exporters. The home-country location for each business is shown within parentheses:
- Philminerals Inc (Philippines)
- Zeil Global Enterprises (United States)
- Metores Oy (Finland)
- Cornerstone (Indonesia)
- Osho Metal Ve Madencilik (Turkey)
- FENI Industries (Macedonia)
Searchable List of Nickel Exporting Countries in 2018
You can change the presentation order by clicking the triangle icon at the top of the columns.
|Rank||Exporter||Nickel Exports (US$)||%World Total|
|3.||New Caledonia||$432.8 million||14.8%|
|5.||United States||$222 million||7.6%|
|12.||Ivory Coast||$15.3 million||0.5%|
|16.||South Korea||$1.4 million||0.05%|
See also Iron Ore Exports by Country, Top Stainless Steel Exporters by Country, Top Lead Exports by Country and Copper Ore Exports by Country
Alibaba, Supplier showroom for nickel. Accessed on September 14, 2018
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 23, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 23, 2019
The Balance, The 10 Biggest Nickel Producers of 2013. Accessed on September 14, 2018
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 23, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on May 23, 2019
Wikipedia, Nickel. Accessed on September 14, 2018