Forrest shuts WA mines as nickel dominoes tumble – by Brad Thompson (Australian Financial Review – January 22, 2024)

Billionaire Andrew Forrest is shutting the West Australian nickel mines his private company, Wyloo, bought for $760 million six months ago, bowing to the supply glut that has crashed nickel prices and triggered the loss of around 1000 jobs across WA.

The mines near Kambalda will go into care and maintenance from May 31 amid a steep decline in nickel prices that Australia’s producers have blamed on a glut from China-backed operations in Indonesia. Dr Forrest wants to see a shake-up of the 147-year-old London Metals Exchange, which does not distinguish pricing for nickel material produced under high environmental, social and governance standards in Australia, and what he calls dirty nickel mined from Indonesia.

The Forrest family-owned Wyloo employs more than 220 contractors and is a supplier to BHP’s own struggling nickel operations where efficiencies are being sought. The Wyloo decision increases the threat to jobs at BHP’s nickel concentrator in Kambalda.

The Kambalda concentrator was restarted in 2022 on the back of nickel ore supply from Mincor Resources, the company Wyloo acquired in July 2023 as part of Dr Forrest’s big-spending nickel ambitions. That advanced the mining billionaire’s return to the sector where he first plied his trade in WA with the boom-bust fortunes of Anaconda Nickel.

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