BHP Billiton, the world’s top diversified miner, has found a $4 billion nickel deposit that could add momentum to its ailing Nickel West industry in Australia, according to company officials. The high-grade discovery near BHP’s Perseverance mine in Leinster named Venus remains in early development, said company officials. A falling Australian dollar has left Nickel West vulnerable by slowing nickel prices, leading to a $205 million loss in 2012’s Q3 and Q4.
And while BHP has nickel success elsewhere—namely, Cerro Matoso in Colombia—company officials have said publicly that they are seeking to lower their sector investment given low prices globally. To this end, the company consolidated its nickel projects, which constitute a small portion of overall earnings, with its aluminum division last year.
Incoming CEO Andrew Mackenzie has voiced plans to reduce BHP’s portfolio by targeting Chinese and Australian iron ore assets. To date, BHP has selected consultants to assess possible outcomes of the sale of its aluminum and nickel assets, while its diamond mining businesses in Canada, Zimbabwe and India are also under scrutiny.