(Bloomberg) — Just 18 months ago, the world’s biggest mining company was in a nickel frenzy. BHP Group, to much fanfare, had struck a deal with Tesla Inc. to supply it with the crucial ingredient for electric vehicles. It was about to go toe-to-toe with Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest for control of one of the globe’s most prospective mines.
For BHP, nickel offered a bright spot. Its management had earmarked the material as a key pillar of growth, a future-facing commodity that would help offset its exit from fossil fuels and let it tap into new demand driven by the world’s race to decarbonize.
Yet things have quickly soured for BHP and other miners. The nickel market has been thrown into chaos after a flood of new supply from Indonesia — the result of huge Chinese investment and major technological breakthroughs.
Mines across the world are at risk of closing, others are asking for state bailouts or going bust. BHP, for one, is now weighing up the future of its flagship Nickel West mine in Australia.
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