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BHP Nickel West opens Australia’s first nickel sulphate plant

BHP Nickel West

BHP Nickel West has opened a new nickel sulphate plant at their Kwinana nickel refinery in Western Australia, the first in Australia. 

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

“Congratulations to BHP Nickel West on its new nickel sulphate plant and its contribution to growing WA’s economy and creating local jobs,” State Development, Jobs and Trade minister Roger Cook said. 

“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.” 

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 EVs. 

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

“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,” Cook said. 

“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, as well as a smelter in Kalgoorlie and the Kwinana refinery. 

As part of BHP’s focus to minimise environmental impacts, 50 per cent of the Kwinana refinery’s electricity needs will be powered by solar. 

“BHP Nickel West’s nickel sulphate plant is a significant achievement for our state and bolsters the McGowan government’s efforts to continue diversifying our local industry towards the next step of the battery value chain,” Mines and Petroleum minister Bill Johnston said. 

As Western Australia’s largest nickel producer, Nickel West plays an important role in supporting the state government’s goal of becoming a world-leader in future battery minerals, materials, technology and expertise.  

“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.” 

Western Australia is the world’s fourth largest nickel producer, with more than $3.3 billion in sales in 2020. 

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