BHP has invested $50m to develop a nickel sulphide deposit in Tanzania, as it looks to secure key resources for electric vehicle batteries as part of its transition plans away from fossil fuels.
Kabanga Nickel (Kabanga) is the largest development-ready nickel sulphide site in the world, containing 1.86m tonnes of nickel-equivalent resources at a grade of 3.44 per cent.
The multinational miner will spend $40m on the deposit, and will also allocate a further $10m to invest in Kabanga’s patented hydrometallurgical technology, Lifezone.
An additional $50m of spending has been agreed, subject to the site reaching key production milestones.
The project timeline anticipates first production in 2025, targeting minimum annual nickel equivalent production of 65,000 tonnes over the next three decades.
At full capacity, Kabanga will produce 4,000 tonnes per annum of cobalt, ranking it as a top-10 global cobalt producer, alongside battery grade metals through the use of its hydrometallurgy technology.
This process uses 80 per cent less power and produces 80 per cent less emissions than conventional smelting.
Kabanga is the first new major mining project to receive a mining licence in a decade in Tanzania.
The project is a partnership with the Tanzanian government, which has a 16 per cent interest through a local partnership entity.
Chris Showalter, Kabanga Nickel’s chief executive said: “BHP’s investment reflects the project’s strong ESG credentials and its role in improving environmental performance throughout the nickel value chain. In addition, BHP’s funding support of Lifezone’s hydromet technology – the future of sustainable metals processing – will drive progress towards a greener world. Through development of Kabanga and Lifezone hydromet, Tanzania will have a growing role in the supply of the battery metals needed to move to a global lowcarbon economy.”
It also plans to leave its dual-share structure and move its main headquarters to Australia.