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Export Finance Australia offers aid to struggling nickel industry.

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Export Finance Australia is providing support to the struggling nickel sector as prices plummet and competition from Indonesia increases. The government is granting nickel producers access to a A$4bn critical minerals fund run by the state export credit agency. Australian mining firms are suspending operations, reducing investments, and considering mine closures. The critical minerals facility aims to spur investment in minerals critical to national security and transition sectors. Nickel mining firms can now tap into this fund to combat the challenges faced by the industry.

Article Summary:

Export Finance Australia has stepped in to assist the nickel sector in Australia, which is facing challenges due to falling prices and stiff competition from Indonesia. The government has allowed nickel producers access to a A$4bn critical minerals fund administered by the state export credit agency. This move comes as Australian mining companies such as IGO, First Quantum, and Wyloo are either suspending operations or reducing investments in nickel. BHP is also contemplating shutting down its site in Western Australia. The critical minerals facility was established in 2021 to promote investments in minerals crucial for national security and transition sectors like electric vehicles and renewables. Nickel was initially excluded from the list of critical minerals but has now been added due to market developments and declining prices. Australia’s federal resources minister, Madeleine King, highlights the challenges facing the nickel sector, with several mining facilities reducing operations or going into care and maintenance. Export Finance Australia confirms that nickel projects can now access the critical minerals facility for support. The Australian government is also offering production tax credits, royalty relief, and loans and grants to the nickel industry to protect jobs and the economy. Australia, being the fifth-largest producer of mined and refined nickel, has been severely impacted by Indonesia’s dominance in the market, resulting in plummeting prices and financial losses for companies like BHP. The closure of nickel mines in Australia, including those by companies like First Quantum Minerals, IGO, and Wyloo Metals, poses a threat to global supply chains. Indonesia’s ban on ore exports earlier and push for foreign investments in smelting has led to a significant increase in nickel production in the country, creating a surplus in the market. Analysts warn of the risks of overdependence on Indonesia for nickel supply, especially as the US and EU seek to reduce reliance on third countries. The current situation in the nickel sector underscores the challenges faced by Australian mining companies and the need for proactive measures to support the industry.

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