Billionaire Andrew Forrest is rewriting history in nickel-rich Western Australia, returning to the scene of his biggest career heartbreak as the owner of Mincor Resources. He is willing to invest “whatever it takes” to become a global force in nickel via his private investment vehicle, Wyloo Metals, in a sector where BHP leads the way in terms of Australian output.
Dr Forrest famously backed Anaconda Nickel in the late 1990s, building it up from nothing before things went badly wrong at the Murrin Murrin mine out in bush near Leonora. He lost some skin and reputation before exiting as chief executive in 2001.
As Wyloo finalises its $760 million takeover of Mincor, Wyloo and Dr Forrest are counting on a looming lithium-like moment for nickel as car makers and original equipment manufacturers look to shore up supply. The mineral makes up more of many electric vehicle batteries than lithium.
A massive divide is opening up between supply from nickel sulphide deposits favoured by battery makers, and nickel laterite operations like those being heavily backed by China in Indonesia, Dr Forrest and Wyloo argue, given their uneven environmental toll.
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