From 2020 to 2021, the value of globally exported nickel rose an average 22% from $3.4 billion.
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.
By value, the world’s 5 biggest nickel exporters are the Philippines, New Caledonia, Australia, Russia and Finland. Collectively, those 5 suppliers accounted for over four-fifths (76.2%) of the overall dollar spend on exported nickel ores or concentrates during 2021.
Among continents, nickel suppliers located in Asian countries exported the highest dollar worth of shiny metal during 2021 with shipments valued at $1.5 billion or 35.5% of the worldwide total. In second place were nickel exporters in Oceania’s New Caledonia and Australia at 29%, trailed by suppliers in Europe at 14.3%.
Smaller percentages came from North America (8.8%), Latin America (8%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and Africa (4.4%).
For research purposes, the 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix is 2604 for nickel ores and concentrates.
Top Nickel Exporters by Country
Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of nickel during 2021.
- Philippines: US$1.5 billion (35.1% of total nickel exports)
- New Caledonia: $757.7 million (18.2%)
- Australia: $445.2 million (10.7%)
- Russia: $299.9 million (7.2%)
- Finland: $283.3 million (6.8%)
- United States: $249.1 million (6%)
- Brazil: $237.3 million (5.7%)
- Canada: $118.4 million (2.8%)
- Guatemala: $94.3 million (2.3%)
- Zambia: $83.6 million (2%)
- Zimbabwe: $74.1 million (1.8%)
- Ivory Coast: $23.7 million (0.6%)
- Turkey: $15.3 million (0.4%)
- Norway: $4 million (0.1%)
- Belgium: $2.8 million (0.07%)
By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 99.8% of globally exported nickel in 2021.
Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing nickel exporters since 2020 were: Norway (up 303.5%), Belgium (up 271%), Russia (up 265.7%) and Brazil (up 205%).
Four countries posted declines in their exported nickel sales namely: Zimbabwe (down -87.9%), Ivory Coast (down -46.9%), Canada (down -11.9%) and Turkey (down -9%).
Countries Generating Greatest Surpluses from Global Nickel Trade
The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for nickel during 2021. 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.
- Philippines: US$1.5 billion (up 37.8% since 2020)
- New Caledonia: $757.7 million (up 31.3%)
- Australia: $443.3 million (up 47.9%)
- Russia: $299.9 million (up 265.7%)
- United States of America: $248.9 million (up 21.5%)
- Brazil: $236.5 million (up 204.3%)
- Guatemala: $94.3 million (up 76.6%)
- Zambia: $83.6 million (up 76.3%)
- Zimbabwe: $74.1 million (down -87.9%)
- Finland: $53.1 million (reversing a -$38.6 million deficit)
- Ivory Coast: $23.7 million (down -46.9%)
- Turkey: $15.3 million (down -9%)
- Norway: $4 million (up 303.5%)
- Tanzania: $2.5 million (reversing a -$6,000 deficit)
- France: $893,000 (up 69.8%)
The Philippines generated the highest surplus in the international trade of nickel. In turn, this positive cashflow confirms the strong Filipino competitive advantage for this specific product category.
Countries Incurring Worst Deficits from Global Nickel Trade
The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for nickel during 2021. 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.
- mainland China: -$4.2 billion (up 43.9% since 2020)
- South Korea: -$340.6 million (up 67.4%)
- Japan: -$279.7 million (up 63.5%)
- Canada: -$251.6 million (up 132.1%)
- Ukraine: -$57.4 million (down -24.3%)
- Cyprus: -$22 million (down 0%)
- United Kingdom: -$14.5 million (reversing a $31,000 surplus)
- Dominican Republic: -$5.6 million (down 0%)
- Germany: -$3.8 million (down -50.4%)
- South Africa: -$1.7 million (up 358.1%)
- Greece: -$273,000 (down -38.4%)
- Romania: -$260,000 (up 140.7%)
- Portugal: -$191,000 (down -58.7%)
- India: -$149,000 (up 71.3%)
- Belgium: -$128,000 (reversing a $75,000 surplus)
The People’s Republic of 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.
Major Exporters by Greatest Volume of Nickel Shipments by Weight
The following ranking reveals which counties exported the biggest volumes of nickel during 2021 in terms of shipment tonnage.
All told, these 15 major suppliers generated 99.99% of the total 54.1 million tons of globally exported nickel in 2021.
- Philippines: 43,384,336 tons of nickel (80.2% of world’s total)
- New Caledonia: 6,839,376 tons (12.6%)
- Guatemala: 2,419,422 tons (4.5%)
- Ivory Coast: 272,473 tons (0.5%)
- Turkey: 261,846 tons (0.5%)
- Russia: 251,981 tons (0.5%)
- Australia: 217,546 tons (0.4%)
- Finland: 186,027 tons (0.3%)
- Brazil: 119,796 tons (0.2%)
- Zimbabwe: 36,186 tons (0.1%)
- Zambia: 34,659 tons (0.1%)
- United States of America: 33,050 tons (0.1%)
- Norway: 9,875 tons (0.02%)
- Canada: 6,323 tons (0.01%)
- Tanzania: 5,413 tons (0.01%)
Fastest-growing nickel shippers by weight are Finland (up 139.3% from 2020), Brazil (up 124.4%), United States of America (up 106%) then Russia (up 67.8%).
Declining by the highest percentages compared to 2020 were Zimbabwe (down -76.6%), Ivory Coast (down -74.2%), Turkey (down -23.5%) and Canada (down -17.9%).
Average Unit Prices for Nickel Exports
Focusing on the 15 main countries that export nickel based on shipment weight, the costliest suppliers are Canada and the United States of America.
Four major suppliers from which to buy the least expensive nickel on international markets are the Philippines, Guatemala, Turkey and the Ivory Coast.
- Philippines: US$34 per ton of nickel (up 25.9% from 2020)
- New Caledonia: $111 per ton (up 44.2%)
- Guatemala: $39 per ton (up 11.4%)
- Ivory Coast: $87 per ton (up 107.1%)
- Turkey: $58 per ton (up 18.4%)
- Russia: $1,190 per ton (up 117.9%)
- Australia: $2,046 per ton (up 51.2%)
- Finland: $1,523 per ton (down -30.9%)
- Brazil: $1,980 per ton (up 35.9%)
- Zimbabwe: $2,048 per ton (down -48.2%)
- Zambia: $2,411 per ton (up 60.2%)
- United States of America: $7,536 per ton (down -41.2%)
- Norway: $400 per ton (up 154.8%)
- Canada: $18,718 per ton (up 7.3%)
- Tanzania: $458 per ton (2020 data unavailable)
- Belgium: $1,679 per ton (up 66.4%)
From 2020 to 2021, the highest levels of inflation calculated for greater average prices per ton of exported nickel belong to suppliers in Norway (up 154.8%), Russia (up 117.9%), Ivory Coast (up 107.1%) and Belgium (up 66.4%).
There were 3 decliners in terms of average prices year over year. Lower average prices were offered by nickel sellers in Zimbabwe (down -48.2% since 2020), United States of America (down -41.2%) and Finland (down -30.9%).
Major Nickel Producing Companies
Below are 10 of the largest nickel producers that represent established players engaged in the international trade of nickel. Their home country for each company’s headquarters is shown within parenthesis.
- Norilsk Nickel (Russia)
- Vale (Brazil)
- BHP Billiton (Australia)
- Jinchuan Group (China)
- Glencore (Switzerland)
- Sherritt International (Canada)
- Eramet (France)
- Sumitomo Metal Mining (Japan)
- Anglo American (UK/South Africa)
- Minara Resources (Australia)
According to global trading platform Alibaba, the following suppliers are also examples of nickel ore exporters. The home-country location for each business is shown within parentheses.
- Philminerals Inc (Philippines)
- Zeil Global Enterprises (United States)
- Metores Oy (Finland)
- Cornerstone (Indonesia)
- Osho Metal Ve Madencilik (Turkey)
- FENI Industries (Macedonia)
Searchable List of Nickel Exporting Countries in 2021
The 38 countries showcased in the automated database below sold 100% of globally exported nickel ores or concentrates during 2021.
|Rank||Exporter||Nickel Exports (US$)||2020-1|
You can change the presentation order by clicking the triangle icon at the top of the columns. An entry of 0% in the right-most column means that 2020 data was unavailable.
See also Top Nickel Importers by Country Plus Average Prices, Top Zinc Exporters by Country, Iron Ore Exports by Country, Top Stainless Steel Exporters by Country and Copper Ore Exports by Country
Alibaba, Supplier showroom for nickel. Accessed on May 20, 2022
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Field Listing: Exports – Commodities. Accessed on May 20, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 20, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 20, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 20, 2022
The Balance, The 10 Biggest Nickel Producers of 2013. Accessed on May 20, 2022
Wikipedia, Nickel. Accessed on May 20, 2022