BHP boosting nickel exploration budget

BHP Nickel West boss Jessica Farrell has revealed the company will spend the most on exploration this year in the history of its ownership of the assets.
BHP boosting nickel exploration budget BHP boosting nickel exploration budget BHP boosting nickel exploration budget BHP boosting nickel exploration budget BHP boosting nickel exploration budget

BHP Nickel West boss Jessica Farrell

Kristie Batten in Kalgoorlie

She told Diggers & Dealers in Kalgoorlie today that the company had budgeted a "significant" lift in exploration spend over the next two years.

"To underscore this point, this year will be the highest annual spend for exploration in Nickel West since BHP acquired the WMC assets in 2005, a testament to the focus and commitment BHP has to its nickel business right now," she said.

"Nickel exploration targets are also being advanced internationally, which is great to see."

BHP has a 7.4 million tonne nickel endowment in the Agnew-Wiluna Belt of Western Australia, covering 120,000 hectares.

"That still remains largely unexplored. That's exciting," Farrell said.

"This is a highly prospective strip, approximately 150km-long and has a number of deposits that we are looking to understand further and potentially mine."

BHP is bullish on nickel due to its forecast that 60% of all car sales will be electric by 2030, rising to 90% by 2040.

"The dominant battery chemistry powering this global fleet is expected to rely on nickel," Farrell said.

"Locally, Canberra is the first jurisdiction in Australia to mandate that all new cars must be electric, by 2035.

"This megatrend, combined with a firm demand base from the traditional stainless and class-1 applications, means we anticipate demand for nickel in the next 30 years will be 200-300% of demand, in the previous 30 years.

"In BHP's 1.5 degree Celsius scenario, where decarbonisation and electrification is sharply accelerated, this figure is closer to four-fold.

"This represents only demand for primary nickel - after accounting for traditional recycling and the rise of a circular economy in the battery supply chain, total nickel use in finished products is likely to be even higher."