BHP successfully produces nickel sulphate at Kwinana plant

Jessica Farrell of BHP Nickel West comments on the successful production of its first nickel sulphate, in Australia, for use in battery production

BHP has successfully produced its first nickel sulphate crystal at its plant in Kwinana, just south of Perth, Western Australia. The first sample marks the beginning of a lucrative production process at the new plant, which is expected to produce around 100,000 tonnes of nickel sulphate each year. 

The facility was developed to produce the raw materials that are critical for the production of vehicles batteries, and with its annual production capacity, it will provide materials for a significant number of batteries. 

‘BHP’s nickel sulphate plant is the first of its kind in Australia, and will produce enough premium nickel sulphate to make 700,000 electric vehicle batteries each year’, says Jessica Farrell, Asset President at BHP Nickel West. ‘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. [...] High quality and sustainable nickel [are] essential for our customers, and we expect demand for nickel in batteries will increase by 500 per cent in the next decade’. 

The majority of the plant was fabricated in Western Australia using local trades and suppliers, including steelwork, fibreglass leach vessels and stainless steel tank installations. The construction of the site incorporated leaching tanks, purification systems, a crystalliser and dryer, and an automated packaging system. ‘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’, says Farrell. 

Before the nickel reaches the Kwinana plant, it is processed at the Kalgoorlie nickel smelter. The Nickel is refined at the new facility, packaged in the form of powder and briquettes and exported from the Port of Fremantle to battery manufacturers around the world. 

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