Ferronickel Market: Overview

Ferronickel is an alloy of nickel and iron. It is a ferroalloy with 35% nickel and 65% iron. Ferronickel is obtained through carbothermic reduction of serpentine minerals such as limonite, garnierite, and serpentinite. It is a shiny metallic solid material. Nickel is the fifth common element on earth. It is naturally found primarily in oxide, sulfide, and silicate minerals. Nickel is a highly useful commercial element. It plays a key role in global industrial development.

Aspects that make ferronickel valuable are its strength, high ductility, good thermal and electric conductivity, corrosion resistance, magnetic characteristics, and catalytic properties. Ferronickel is primarily used in the manufacture of austenitic stainless steels. These steels are non-magnetic, corrosion resistant and are extensively used group of stainless steels computing between 70-75% of global stainless outputs. The use of ferronickel has been highly innovative and value added despite its relatively high cost. Ferronickel is steady under normal storage conditions; however, there exists a risk of emitting toxic gas when exposed to carbon dioxide.

Crude metal refining in electric furnace is one of the essential steps in the production of ferronickel. Removal of silicon, carbon, phosphorus, and sulfur is an important part of the refining process. Pyrometallurgy is a widely used process for ferronickel extraction. It is a part of extractive metallurgy, which makes use of high temperatures to extract and purify metals. The process consists of chemical and physical transformation of the material through the thermal treatment of minerals and metallurgical ores in order to obtain pure metal. The pyrometallurgy process consists of calcining, roasting, smelting, and refining.

Calcination is the process of thermal decomposition of a material. For example, decomposition of calcium carbonate to carbon dioxide and calcium oxide. The roasting comprises thermal solid-gas reactions, which include chlorination, reduction, oxidation, and sulfation. Smelting consists of thermal reactions, wherein at least one product is in the molten phase. Refining is the process of removing impurities through the thermal process. After receiving the pure form of metal, the molten metal is cast into shape of bars or rectangular blocks. Such blocks, known as ingots, range from 10 kilograms to 1 ton. The chemical composition of ferronickel ingot consists of nickel 17-24%, cobalt 1.2%, sulfur 0.25%, arsenic 0.15%, copper 0.10%, silicon 0.02%, carbon 0.02%, phosphorous-0.020%, and the rest consists of iron.

Ferronickel is primarily employed in the manufacture of stainless steel. It has enabled the efficient use of telecommunication, safe and reliable medical equipment, safe transportation, hygienic processing of foods and drinks, effective oil and gas production, water treatment and delivery, clean and reliable energy generation, and emission reducing equipment.

Ferronickel Market: Regional Outlook

Based on region, the global ferronickel market can be divided into North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Asia Pacific is projected to lead the global market during the forecast period, followed by North America and Europe. China is the major ferronickel manufacturing country. The market in Asia Pacific has been expanding owing to the increase in demand for stainless steel in the region. The market in Latin America and Middle East & Africa is likely to expand at a moderate pace during the forecast period.

Ferronickel Market: Key Players

Key players operating in the global ferronickel market include Shandong Xinhai Technology Co., Ltd., Tsinghan Holding Group Co., Ltd., Eramet, Mining-Bulletin, Jiangsu Delong Nickel Ind. Co., Ltd., Koniambo Nickel SAS, Sumitomo Metal Mining Co.Ltd., and Larco.

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