Strong interest in a new battery-grade nickel product Western Areas plans to produce reinforces suggestions the growing electric vehicles sector could deliver a “renaissance” for the flagging nickel market, Western Areas managing director Dan Lougher says.
Western Areas started work in the June quarter on its mill recovery enhancement project, which plans to produce a high-grade nickel concentrate product from its Forrestania nickel operations in Western Australia from the March quarter of 2018.
While the project will produce only about 1400 tonnes of the 45 to 50 per cent nickel concentrate, compared to Western Areas’ annual nickel production of about 25,000 tonnes, Mr Lougher said the Perth-based miner had already fielded interest in the product from multiple global battery market players.
“Last week we had conversations with three separate Chinese groups,” he said.
“Prior to that we were talking to traders and the usual suspects with refineries, because this product can be put directly into a refinery rather than a smelter, and obviously we have been talking to large groups who are non-Chinese.
“I can’t elaborate more than that other than to say they are very closely linked to the current electric vehicle battery supply market.”