BHP Billiton announced on November 12 that a previously announced review of its Nickel West business in Western Australia was complete and that its preferred option, the sale of the business, had not been achieved on an acceptable basis. As a result, the company is keeping Nickel West in its portfolio as a "non-core asset" and will continue to operate the business.
Nickel West's assets include a large, open-cut nickel mine and concentrator at Mount Keith, the Cliffs underground mine and concentrator at Leinster, a nickel concentrator and smelter that produces nickel concentrate and nickel matte at Kalgoorlie, and a nickel refinery at Kwinana that processes nickel matte into LME-grade nickel briquettes and nickel powder, as well as a range of saleable co-products.
Mount Keith has a reserve life of 10 years. Cliffs has a reserve life of 3.2 years.
Nickel West produced 98,900 mt of nickel in nickel products in BHP Billiton's fiscal year to June 30, 2014. Production during the current fiscal year is forecast at 95,000 mt.
Nickel West President Paul Harvey said, "The focus of Nickel West will remain on delivering safe and efficient production whilst pursuing every opportunity to maximize productivity, reduce operating costs, and increase free cash flow."