BHP to increase nickel exploration spending in next two years

BHP’s nickel division has vowed to increase its spending on exploration for the key battery metals over the next two years to meet rising demand from the lithium-ion battery industry.

The mining’s giant’s Nickel West unit has already secured supply agreements with a number of electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers including Tesla, Toyota and more recently Ford.

BHP is thought to possess the world’s second largest nickel sulphide resource base within the Agnew-Wiluna belt in Western Australia, where it holds 120,000 hectares of land.

The area has in excess of 7.4 million tonnes of nickel that still remains largely unexplored, according to BHP Nickel West asset president Jessica Farrell.

“We have budgeted a significant uplift in exploration spend over the next two years, which we expect will advance many of our targets,” Farrell told an audience at this year’s Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie.

“This year will be the highest annual spend for exploration in Nickel West,” she added before highlighting a projection that 60% of all global car sales will be electric by 2030, increasing to 90% by 2040.

“The dominant battery chemistry powering this global fleet is expected to rely on nickel,” Farrell said.

“This megatrend, combined with a firm demand base from the traditional stainless and class one applications means we anticipate demand for nickel in the next 30 years will be 200% to 300% of demand in the previous 30 years.”