BHP Nickel West has received approval from the Western Australian Government to develop its Venus nickel sulphate deposit near Leinster in the northern Goldfields.
The Venus deposit, which was initially discovered in 2012 and hosts over 200,000 tonnes of nickel reserves, will provide feed for the Leinster nickel operation’s mill and concentrator.
BHP Nickel West intends to pivot towards the development and supply of battery-grade nickel for renewable technologies such as electric vehicles.
Nickel is a cheaper alternative to cobalt and companies such as electric car manufacturer Tesla have reduced their dependancy on cobalt in recent years.
BHP Nickel West has renewed its focus on the metal due to this resurgence of interest, with three new mines in the works, including Venus.
Venus is the first of the three mines to finalise its approvals process.
According to a Reuters report, BHP said the Venus team had started developing access drives to the site and that first stoping production would commence early next year.
The company is developing a 100,000-tonne capacity nickel sulphate plant at its refinery in Kwinana that is expected to begin operations in April 2019. BHP is also considering a second-stage expansion of the plant in order to double capacity.