MINING titan BHP will keep its Nickel West operations amid the positive outlook for battery materials, amid increasing demand for materials used to make batteries, its chief executive says.
The company has previously made several attempts to sell its nickel operations in Western Australia, saying as recently as 2017 that it was looking for a buyer.
“Developments such as climate change and dramatic shifts in technology present both challenges and opportunities,” Andrew Mackenzie said on Tuesday in a speech to a mining conference in Barcelona.
“Nickel West, which we will now retain in the portfolio, offers high-return potential as a future growth option, linked to the expected growth in battery markets and the relative scarcity of quality nickel sulphide supply,” he said.
Nickel is in increasing demand in new battery technologies that mean cars can travel further on a single charge.
Using more nickel also cuts costs by reducing the amount of expensive cobalt, a mainstay of current electric vehicle (EV) battery technology.
Western Australia is rich in nickel sulphides which can be chemically processed into sulphate.