BHP Billiton temporarily closed the Perseverance nickel project after it experienced seismic activity on October 31; no injuries were reported at the Western Australia site after a safe evacuation. A 3.7 magnitude earthquake took place at 6:25 a.m., according to local reports. BHP said employees underground followed safety procedures by proceeding to a secure chamber with water and communications accessibility. By 3:30 p.m., all individuals were safely brought to the surface.
A skeleton crew is now working to re-establish access, conduct inspections, assessments and maintenance of essential services. Other underground personnel will not work until further notice.
Regional BHP Nickel West operations at Mount Keith, Cliffs, Kalgoorlie, Kambalda and Kwinana, meanwhile, were unaffected and remain operational, said BHP, while short-term Kwinana refinery production will be maintained. However, Perseverance’s suspension is forecast to result in overall cuts to saleable Nickel West Q4 2013 production.
BHP is one of the world’s largest nickel miners, one of the top refined nickel producers and a lead global supplier of nickel to the stainless steel industry with two producing assets in Australia and Colombia.