BHP Billiton approves nickel project

BHP Billiton has announced approval for the development of the Ravensthorpe Project and related expansion of the Yabulu Nickel Refinery in Australia. The combined project includes the development of a mine, treatment plant and associated infrastructure near Ravensthorpe, Western Australia, and the expansion of the QNI Yabulu Refinery near Townsville in Queensland. The capital cost for the combined project is expected to be USD 1.4 billion, with a capital intensity of approximately USD 12.7/lb of annual nickel production. The Ravensthorpe processing plant will employ an Enhanced Pressure Acid Leach (EPAL) hydrometallurgical process, which is a combination of pressure acid leach and atmospheric leach, producing a mixed nickel and cobalt hydroxide intermediate product (MHP). The MHP will contain up to 50,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) nickel and 1400tpa cobalt and will be packaged and shipped through the Port of Esperance to Townsville for final refining at the QNI Yabulu Refinery. The project will increase nickel production capacity from the expanded Yabulu Refinery by more than 140% from 31,200tpa to an estimated 76,000tpa, with the life of the refinery being extended by approximately 25 years.

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