From 2019 to 2020, the value of globally exported nickel fell by an average -11.7%.
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.
The 5 biggest nickel exporters are the Philippines, Zimbabwe, New Caledonia, Australia and the United States of America. Collectively, those 5 suppliers accounted for roughly four-fifths (79.5%) of the overall value of exported nickel ores or concentrates during 2020.
Among continents, suppliers located in Asian countries sold the highest dollar worth of exported nickel during 2020 with shipments valued at $1.1 billion or 31.4% of the worldwide total. In second place were exporters in Oceania’s New Caledonia, Australia and Papua New Guinea at 25.4%, trailed by suppliers in Africa at 21.9%.
Smaller percentages came from North America (9.8%), Europe (7.6%) and Latin America (3.9%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
For research purposes, 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 2020.
- Indonesia: US$1.7 billion (37.2% of total nickel exports)
- Zimbabwe: $737.1 million (16.0%)
- Philippines: $600.4 million (13.0%)
- New Caledonia: $480.4 million (10.4%)
- Australia: $307.5 million (6.7%)
- Finland: $241.7 million (5.2%)
- United States: $177.7 million (3.8%)
- Canada: $163.1 million (3.5%)
- Ivory Coast: $120.3 million (2.6%)
- Guatemala: $23.0 million (0.5%)
- Russia: $19.7 million (0.4%)
- Zambia: $14.6 million (0.3%)
- Albania: $6.9 million (0.2%)
- Belgium: $2.5 million (0.1%)
- Germany: $2.3 million (0.05%)
By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 99.8% of globally exported nickel in 2020.
Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing nickel exporters since 2019 were: Brazil (up 706,955%), China (up 425,100%), Spain (up 41,960%) and Turkey (up 966.4%).
Four supplying countries posted declines in their exported nickel sales namely Finland (down -29%), Canada (down -17.6%), Zimbabwe (down -17%) and Australia (down -2.3%).
The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for nickel during 2020. 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: $1.1 billion (up 75.9% since 2019)
- Zimbabwe: $611.8 million (down -17%)
- New Caledonia: $577.1 million (up 20.1%)
- Australia: $299.8 million (down -2.5%)
- United States: $204.9 million (up 15.3%)
- Ivory Coast: $101.8 million (up 128.6%)
- Russia: $82 million (up 315.6%)
- Brazil: $77.7 million (reversing a -$507,000 deficit)
- Guatemala: $56.5 million (up 145.6%)
- Zambia: $45.1 million (up 208.3%)
- Turkey: $16.8 million (up 967.7%)
- Spain: $4.2 million (up 59,757%)
- Norway: $979,000 (up 199.4%)
- France: $526,000 (down -5.2%)
- Kazakhstan: $443,000 (up 17.2%)
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.
The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for nickel during 2020. 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$2.9 billion (down -26.6% since 2019)
- South Korea: -$203.5 million (down -12.5%)
- Japan: -$171.1 million (down -21.4%)
- Canada: -$108.4 million (down -200.5%)
- North Macedonia: -$103.6 million (down -24.3%)
- Ukraine: -$75.8 million (up 11.6%)
- Finland: -$42.8 million (reversing an -$11.6 million deficit)
- Germany: -$7.5 million (up 102.7%)
- Portugal: -$467,000 (up 248.5%)
- Greece: -$443,000 (down -89.3%)
- South Africa: -$372,000 (reversing a -$360,000 deficit)
- Romania: -$106,000 (up 2,020%)
- India: -$87,000 (reversing a -$82,000 deficit)
- Malaysia: -$86,000 (down -61.6%)
- Taiwan: -$77,000 (down -193.9%)
The People’s Republic of China incurred the highest deficit in the international trade of nickel. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights China’s competitive disadvantage for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for nickel-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful demand.
Nickel Producing Companies
Below are 10 of the largest nickel producers that represent established players engaged in the international trade of nickel. Their home country for each company’s headquarters is shown within parenthesis.
- Norilsk Nickel (Russia)
- Vale (Brazil)
- BHP Billiton (Australia)
- Jinchuan Group (China)
- Glencore (Switzerland)
- Sherritt International (Canada)
- Eramet (France)
- Sumitomo Metal Mining (Japan)
- Anglo American (UK/South Africa)
- Minara Resources (Australia)
According to global trading platform Alibaba, the following suppliers are also examples of nickel ore exporters. The home-country location for each business is shown within parentheses.
- Philminerals Inc (Philippines)
- Zeil Global Enterprises (United States)
- Metores Oy (Finland)
- Cornerstone (Indonesia)
- Osho Metal Ve Madencilik (Turkey)
- FENI Industries (Macedonia)
Searchable List of Nickel Exporting Countries in 2020
The 42 countries showcased in the automated database below sold 100% of globally exported nickel ores or concentrates during 2020.
|Rank||Exporter||Nickel Exports (US$)||2019-20|
|32.||United Arab Emirates||$22,000||0%|
|36.||Papua New Guinea||$6,000||+20%|
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 2019 data was unavailable.
See also Iron Ore Exports by Country, Top Stainless Steel Exporters by Country and Copper Ore Exports by Country
Alibaba, Supplier showroom for nickel. Accessed on September 25, 2021
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Field Listing: Exports – Commodities. Accessed on September 25, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 25, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 25, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 25, 2021
The Balance, The 10 Biggest Nickel Producers of 2013. Accessed on September 25, 2021
Wikipedia, Nickel. Accessed on September 25, 2021