BHP may bring forward development of stage two of its nickel sulphate plant at the Kwinana Refinery in Western Australia with interest in the product exceeding expectations.
The miner revealed at Diggers & Dealers in August that its Nickel West division would spend $US43.2 million ($55 million) on building stage one of the world’s largest nickel sulphate plant at Kwinana.
BHP, the world’s leading producer of nickel powder, is looking to capitalise on the forecasted demand for lithium-ion batteries in the coming years, with the likes of Tesla preferring nickel-rich models.
Nickel West asset president Eduard Haegel explained yesterday that interest from potential customers in nickel sulphate is “significantly exceeding expectations” and capacity for stage one of the project.
Stage one of the facility, which is designed to be fully automated, is being developed to produce 100,000 tonnes of nickel a year, making it the world’s largest exporter of the product.
With interest for the product high, BHP is exploring how it can bring forward stage two of the Kwinana facility, which would lift production to 200,000 tonnes per annum.
BHP expects stage one of the facility to be in production in the first half of 2019, subject to it receiving the necessary approvals to construct and operate the plant.