BHP has delivered the first nickel sulphate crystals from its plant in Kwinana, south of Perth in Western Australia.
BHP Nickel West Asset President Jessica Farrell said the plant is the first of its kind and will produce 100,000 tonnes of nickel sulphate per year when fully operational.
“Our investment to upgrade the refinery to produce high purity nickel sulphate, along with nickel powder and briquettes, will enhance Nickel West’s position as a supplier of choice for the growing global electric battery market,” Ms Farrell said.
“The plant will create 80 new direct jobs and support 400 new indirect jobs, in addition to the 200 construction jobs that were created during the construction phase.”
The plant consists of leaching tanks, purification technology, a crystalliser and dryer, and an automated packaging system.
Nickel from BHP’s mines is processed at the Kalgoorlie nickel smelter, before it is transported to the Kwinana nickel refinery and refined into nickel metal, in the form of powder or briquettes.
Nickel powder is then processed through the new sulphate plant to make nickel sulphate. The nickel sulphate will be exported to global battery markets from the Port of Fremantle.
BHP is one of the world’s leading nickel suppliers to the battery metals market, with 85 per cent of its nickel metal currently sold to the battery market.