Metals: Nickel Dollars

When the Canadian government two weeks ago switched from silver coins to nickel to benefit one of Canada's biggest basic industries, the nation's seven nickel companies were flustered as well as flattered. Free-world consumption of nickel—825 million pounds last year—is approaching its highest point in history and straining the industry's capacity to supply. The demand is so strong that nickel producers are rushing to develop new sources from the chilly plains of Canada to subtropic mountains in New Caledonia.

Heading the rush is the company that for 65 years has led the industry,...

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