5 Best Nickel ETFs To Buy in 2022

Electric cars are powered by big lithium-ion batteries, which require a lot of “green metals” like nickel, cobalt, and lithium. Elon Musk has even tweeted that nickel was the “biggest concern” when it came to battery metals. Nickel funds also rallied after sanctions were imposed on Russia, which supplies around 10% of the world’s nickel. Learn which funds invest in nickel.

SustainFi   Updated May 30th, 2022

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Why invest in nickel?

Decarbonization is driving a boom in green metals like nickel, a silvery-white metal used in everything from electric car batteries to stainless steel appliances. Nickel is stable at high temperatures, increasing the EV’s driving range. Batteries with high nickel content can store more power and will be critical for the development of longer-range EVs, like electric trucks.

Although today about 70% of nickel goes to make stainless steel and only 7-8% goes into batteries, demand from EV batteries will represent more of the global demand in the future. Elon Musk has tweeted that nickel was the “biggest concern” for scaling EV battery production.

Nickel’s price rally has been fueled by excitement about EVs and, after that, the war in Ukraine. Russia is a major nickel-producing country, supplying 9-10% of the world’s nickel. In March 2022, nickel prices skyrocketed due to a short squeeze set off by the war in Ukraine. The London Metal Exchange even had to pause trading and reverse some trades.

However, the nickel market is volatile. Prices skyrocketed in 2019 after an Indonesia imports ban but collapsed in early 2020 before rising again.

What is the price of nickel?

As of May 30, 2022, nickel prices were $28,000 per ton.

Source: London Metal Exchange

What ETFs invest in nickel?

There are several funds that invest in nickel and nickel mining stocks:

  • iPath Series B Bloomberg Nickel Subindex Total Return ETN (JJN)
  • iShares MSCI Global Metals & Mining Producers ETF (PICK)
  • Amplify Lithium & Battery Technology ETF (BATT)
  • VanEck Green Metals ETF (GMET)
  • Global X Disruptive Materials ETF (DMAT)

🔔 Looking for nickel mining stocks? Check out this list of nickel mining companies.

The best nickel ETFs

Fund / TickerExpense RatioAssets ($m)YTD PerformanceHoldingsNickel producers (% of fund)
iPath Series B Bloomberg Nickel Subindex Total Return ETN (JJN)0.45%4530%1100%
iShares MSCI Global Metals & Mining Producers ETF (PICK)0.39%1,6006%21827%
Amplify Lithium & Battery Technology ETF (BATT)0.59%188-18%9215%
VanEck Green Metals ETF (GMET)0.59%25-5%5114%
Global X Disruptive Materials ETF (DMAT)0.59%5-518%

Data as of 5/30/2022

iPath Series B Bloomberg Nickel Subindex Total Return ETN (JJN)

  • Expense ratio: 0.45%

iPath Series B Bloomberg Nickel Subindex Total Return ETN (JJN) is an exchange-traded note that tracks one nickel futures contract at a time. Although this ETN only has roughly $45 million in assets, it is the easiest direct way for U.S. investors to get exposure to volatile nickel prices. Buying futures directly is more complicated.

However, JJN is not an ETF but an ETN, which is a form of debt issued by a bank, in this case, Barclays. Unlike an ETF, which buys and holds the underlying securities, an ETN doesn’t own anything. The Note’s backer (in this case, Barclays) promises to pay the return of the underlying futures contract. Because the ETN does not hold securities, it can match the return of the contract perfectly, eliminating tracking error. However, the ETN carries the credit risk of the issuer, so if Barclays goes bankrupt, investors may not get their money back.

4/30/22 Update: in April 2022, Barclays suspended the sale of iPath ETNs, including JJN, until further notice. They expect to reopen the sale of ETNs in the future. Holders of ETNs can still sell their investments.

iShares MSCI Global Metals & Mining Producers ETF (PICK)

  • Expense ratio: 0.39%
  • Nickel stocks (% of assets): 25%+

Launched in 2012, the iShares MSCI Global Metals & Mining Producers ETF (PICK) is a popular metal and mining ETF. It tracks an index of metal and mining companies, excluding gold and silver.

PICK is a diversified fund with about 220 holdings; the top three are BHP Group, Rio Tinto Plc, and Vale. Nickel-producing stocks include BHP, Vale, Glencore, IGO Ltd, Nickel Mines Ltd, and Jinchuan Group. All-in, nickel-related holdings are over 25% of the fund’s assets, which is a lot, though diversified mining companies like Glencore and BHP mine metals besides nickel.

The fund manager doesn’t specify how much of the fund is invested in nickel, but it should be part of the diversified metals bucket, which is nearly 50% of the ETF. Other metals PICK invests in include steel (around 30%), copper (10%), aluminum (5%), and precious metals (3%).

Amplify Advanced Battery Metals & Materials ETF (BATT)

  • Expense ratio: 0.59%
  • Nickel stocks (% of assets): 15%

Launched in 2018, BATT invests in companies that make money from lithium battery technologies, including battery storage, battery metals, and electric vehicles. This is a thematic battery ETF, not a metals and mining ETF. Around one-third of the fund is invested in metals and mining; the rest is in electric cars and components, electric equipment, chemicals, semiconductors, and other stocks. BATT has a reasonable 0.59% expense ratio.

The ETF has around 90 holdings, and each investment is capped at 7%. The top three stocks include EV battery manufacturer CATL, Tesla, and the mining giant BHP Group. Nickel miners include BHP (in the top three), Glencore, IGO Ltd, Vale Indonesia, and Jinchuan Group. Added together, nickel stocks are about 15% of the ETF’s assets.

BATT is a thematic way of investing in lithium-ion batteries, though not directly in nickel.

VanEck Green Metals ETF (GMET)

  • Expense ratio: 0.59%
  • Nickel stocks (% of assets): 14%

Launched in November 2021, the VanEck Green Metals ETF tracks the MVIS Global CleanTech Metals Index, which invests in companies that produce, refine, process and recycle green metals. Green metals are metals that enable the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. They include nickel, cobalt, copper, and lithium.

GMET has recently launched and has about $25 million in assets. The fund’s 50 holdings include the world’s top nickel producers like Glencore and Ganfeng Lithium. (However, mining giants like Glencore sell other metals, so nickel is only about 5% of Glencore’s earnings.) All in, we found that major nickel producers represented roughly 14% of this ETF’s assets.

GMET is a global ETF investing in China, Australia, and the U.S. It costs 0.59%.

Global X Disruptive Materials ETF (DMAT)

  • Expense ratio: 0.59%
  • Nickel stocks (% of assets): 8%

Just launched in 2022, the Global X Disruptive Materials ETF (DMAT) invests in U.S. and foreign stocks deriving at least half of their revenues from mining or refining carbon fiber, cobalt, copper, graphite, lithium, manganese, nickel, platinum and palladium, rare earth elements and zinc.

To be included, stocks must have at least $100 million in market cap. The fund owns nickel producers like Sibanye Stillwater, Igo Ltd, Nickel Mines Ltd, and Western Areas Ltd.

💰 Which nickel ETF is best?

  • PICK is a traditional metals and mining ETF, which has around a quarter of its assets invested in large nickel producers.
  • However, if you want to specifically bet on EV batteries or green metals, GMET or BATT may be better options, even though they own fewer nickel producers.
  • If you just want exposure to the price of nickel futures, JJN is the best bet.

What to look for in a nickel ETF

We recommend comparing ETFs based on the following factors:

  • Exposure to nickel: only JJN is 100% invested in nickel the metal; other above-mentioned ETFs may invest in nickel-mining companies stocks but none of them are exclusively dedicated to nickel miners
  • Type: we generally prefer owning ETFs vs. ETNs like JJN, though JJN may be the only way of getting 100% exposure to nickel
  • Fees and spreads: some ETFs are more expensive to own and trade than others. PICK is the least expensive fund on the list

NOT INVESTMENT ADVICE. The content is for informational purposes only; you should not construe any such information as investment advice.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I invest in nickel?

You can buy nickel mining stocks, ETFs like PICK (though there is no ETF 100% dedicated to nickel), or invest in nickel futures directly or through an ETN, the iPath Series B Bloomberg Nickel Subindex Total Return ETN (JJN).