Musk’s nickel com­ment spurs BHP into ac­tion

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS NEWS -

OB­SER­VA­TIONS by Tesla’s Elon Musk on the key role nickel plays in the elec­tric ve­hi­cle boom helped in­spire the world’s top miner, BHP Bil­li­ton, to in­vest in new ca­pac­ity to tar­get ris­ing de­mand. Amid ef­forts to im­prove per­for­mance at its nickel op­er­a­tions in Aus­tralia, Ed­uard Haegel, as­set pres­i­dent of BHP’s Nickel West unit, said he “stum­bled across” a video of Musk’s com­ments last year high­light­ing that EV bat­ter­ies typ­i­cally con­tain higher quan­ti­ties of the metal than lithium. “As we delved in to un­der­stand more about the lithium-ion bat­tery mar­ket, it be­came clear that de­mand from EVs was ac­cel­er­at­ing,” Haegel said yes­ter­day. “It also be­came clear that we had com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages.” As a re­sult, BHP ap­proved a $43-mil­lion project to be­gin pro­duc­tion at its re­fin­ery from April 2019 of nickel sul­phate, a prod­uct needed for lithi­u­mion bat­ter­ies. The move will make BHP the top ex­porter of the ma­te­rial, Haegel said in Kal­go­or­lie, West­ern Aus­tralia. Global nickel de­mand could more than dou­ble by 2050, fu­elled in part by ris­ing elec­tric-ve­hi­cle sales, Bloomberg In­tel­li­gence an­a­lyst Eily Ong wrote. – Bloomberg

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