BHP backs future of Nickel West to drive battery market

nickel sulphate

Nickel West. Image: BHP.

BHP has indicated it will keep the Nickel West business in Western Australia as the company looks to capitalise on the emerging global battery market.

Speaking at a global metals, mining and steel conference in Barcelona, BHP chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie said retaining the company’s nickel operation “offers high-return potential.”

“Decarbonisation, the electrification of transport, the future of work and food security are examples of strategic themes that we monitor,” he said.

“For example, Nickel West… [is] a future growth option, linked to the expected growth in battery markets and the relative scarcity of quality nickel sulphide supply.”

BHP had previously planned to sell the Nickel West division due to its failure to produce meaningful earnings.

In the past two years, however, the company has revealed plans for major expansion of the Western Australian operations.

Mackenzie also emphasised the significant growth BHP has experienced since 2016, focusing on results surrounding increased volumes, reduced costs and keeping staff safe at work.

This includes reducing net debt by $US16 billion ($23 billion), reinvesting $US20 billion in the business and returning over $US25 billion to shareholders.

Mackenzie noted the challenges the company could face in the future, including climate change developments and dramatic shifts in technology.

He reiterated that BHP was prepared for the challenges and would also view them as an opportunity.

“To make sure that we secure the future prosperity of our company, we constantly test our current assets and future options against many divergent scenarios for how the world will look well into the future,” Mackenzie said.

“While nobody can predict what will happen with absolute precision, I am confident BHP’s portfolio can thrive under almost all plausible outcomes in this changing world.”

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