BHP increases nickel reserves by 77% ahead of rising EV demand

BHP has boosted its nickel reserves by 77% to 1.5 million tonnes this year as the mining giant prepares for increased demand for nickel from the fast-growing electric vehicle (EV) sector.

In the last year, BHP has secured a 13,000 km exploration area in Western Australia, where its Nickel West division is located. The company has also looked into debottlenecking for its Mt Keith concentrator, Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter, and Kwinana refinery.

BHP’s asset president Eddie Haegel discussed the firm’s expansion strategy for Nickel West during the first day of the 2019 Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

“The electrification of transport is certainly shaping our long-run view of nickel as an attractive commodity,” he said before revealing that BHP does not expect to see a big impact on nickel demand from batteries until the mid to late 2020s.

“However, we at Nickel West will not rest waiting for that day to arrive. We are actively developing options to position ourselves for a once in a generation opportunity,” he added.

BHP plans to start production of nickel sulphate in the second quarter of next year, as it ramps up sales of its nickel products to the battery industry, Haegel also confirmed last week.