BHP green light to develop nickel mine in W. Australia
BHP has received approval from the government of W. Australia to develop a nickel mine to supply feed material for its Nickel West battery chemical business. The Venus deposit represents one of the most significant development options for Nickel West as the miner gears up production of nickel sulphate to supply the burgeoning EV battery industry.
The major miner has been ploughing investment into nickel mine exploration and development in a bid to become a vertically integrated nickel chemical producer, with the miner continuing “drilling over the coming months (to) better define the resource. We expect first stoping production early next year”.
Venus, discovered over six years ago, has more than 200,000t of nickel reserves and will feed the Leinster Nickel Operation mill and concentrator over the next eight years.
The miner's Perth nickel sulphate plant is expected to come online from April 2019, with capacity to produce 100,000t of nickel sulphate, accounting for some 22,000t of nickel. BHP is making plans to double capacity with a potential second-stage expansion.
Nickel is in increasingly hot 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 battery technology.