Saturday 23rd Oct, 2021

BHP opens Australia’s first nickel sulphate plant

Mining Plant

BHP Nickel West has opened the first nickel sulphate plant in Australia at its Kwinana nickel refinery.

Nickel sulphate is a key material in the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles.

The new facility has the potential to exceed 100,000 tonnes of nickel sulphate per year at 99.99 per cent purity, which is enough to make 700,000 batteries for electric vehicles.

More than 85 per cent of BHP’s current production is sold to the future-battery supply chain.

WA State Development, Jobs and Trade Minister Roger Cook congratulated the company on the new nickel sulphate plant.

“Nickel is essential to decarbonisation and WA has some of the largest and highest-grade nickel sulphide deposits in the world, in addition to leading mining and mineral expertise,” Cook said.

“Significant economic gains can be achieved for WA by building on our strengths in mining to diversify our activities into other segments of the battery value chain, including more onshore materials processing and manufacturing.

“This milestone for BHP Nickel West reinforces the importance of the Government’s commitment to establishing a globally advanced manufacturing hub for the industrial corridor between Henderson and Rockingham.”

BHP’s nickel operations include Mt Keith, Cliffs and Leinster, and it has concentrators at Mt Keith, Leinster and Kambalda, and a smelter in Kalgoorlie and the Kwinana refinery.

Half of the Kwinana refinery’s electricity needs will be powered by solar to meet BHP’s goal to reduce environmental impacts.

WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said BHP Nickel West’s nickel sulphate plant is a significant achievement for the state and bolsters the WA Government’s efforts to diversify local industry.

“Through the WA Recovery Plan, we have committed $13.2 million to facilitate a global precursor cathode manufacturer to build a facility in WA,” Johnston said.

“WA is the only State to have a clear strategy supporting the development of a world-leading future battery industry that will create jobs and benefit regional communities.”