Nickel is a silvery white shiny metal used primarily for corrosion-resistant alloys and to produce grades of stainless steel. Nickel has excellent chemical properties and is also used in rechargeable batteries for this reason.
For a long time nickel was not recognised as a metal in its own right, but was instead regarded as a non-meltable component of copper ore. This view was not refuted until the 18th century. Nickel is indeed very resistant to high temperatures and corrosion. Even a small amount of nickel can considerably improve the strength and resistance to corrosion of steel when used as an alloy, something which is made use of in the steel industry. The most important use of nickel is therefore in the production of stainless steel and other metal alloys. Nickel is also used in electroplated coatings. Around one quarter of the global demand for nickel is met by recycling nickel scrap.
Around 40 per cent of global nickel output is consumed in Europe, followed by Asia and America. Because steel production has increased substantially in China in recent years, the demand for and consumption of nickel is also increasing at a very fast pace there. This demand cannot be met from Chinese nickel deposits, as a result of which China is one of the largest importers of nickel.
The most important trading venue for nickel is the London Metal Exchange.