KWINANA, Australia, Aug 2 (Reuters) - BHP Group plans to start production of nickel sulphate in the second quarter of next year, as it ramps up sales of its nickel products to the battery industry, asset president Eddie Haegel said on Friday.
BHP currently produces around 75,000 tonnes of nickel metal as briquettes and powder at its Kwinana refinery on the outskirts of Perth, which it sells mostly to chemicals makers in Asia who turn the products into nickel sulphate, used to make batteries for electric vehicles (EVs).
BHP, which in 2015 had considered closing the plant due to a drop in demand from the stainless steel industry, is currently building what it expects to be the world’s biggest nickel sulphate facility to serve the EV battery market directly.
In a presentation, the company said it sold about 78% of its nickel production to the battery industry in the second half of the 2019 financial year, up from just below 60% a year ago.
Reporting by Melanie Burton; editing by Richard Pullin