Clive Palmer to Buy BHP's Nickel Mines

Submitted by Jim Thesiger on 4 July, 2009 - 03:57

Professor Clive Palmer, one of the richest men in Australia has recently declared that he is considering purchasing the nickel assets owned by BHP Billiton (BHP) to strengthen up an expansion program of Yabulu nickel refinery which is located in Queensland. Companies that are owned by Clive Palmer bought the refinery today in an undisclosed price which Professor Palmer claimed to be less than $2 billion.

In a statement, Clive Palmer declared that he is considering purchasing Raventsthorpe and Leinster nickel mines what are owned by BHP Billiton. According Professor Palmer, in the last 35 years, the refinery has produced as much as 2700 tonnes of cobalt and 32,000 tonnes of nickel.

In the last couple of years BHP has invested more than $1 billion to improve its plant in order to increase its production up to 40,000 tonnes of feedstock from Raventhorpe. However, later that program was stopped with the close of Raventhorpe. Speculation is going on that BHP Billiton might sell Raventhorpe nickel laterite mine that was closed down in January 2009.

BHP’s operations at Leinster have also come under pressure after Petroleum Minister Norman Moore threatened to shut down the mine after the occurrence of two rock fall incidents. Mr. Palmer admitted that he is interested about Raventhorpe and Leinster and might look for a new approach to get these operations out of the current crisis.

Graham Reynolds, the manager of BHP Billiton Nickle West public affairs told AAP in an interview on Tuesday that the company has completed a report at Yabulu based on which the authority will make its decision regarding the future of its operations. Mr. Reynolds also mentioned that BHP is currently going through an option study on Raventhorpe which is expected to be completed at the end of this year and the authority haven’t made any decision regarding selling the Nickle assets.

The Nickel West division came under the ownership of BHP Billiton in 2005 which was previously owned by WMC Resources. Kwinana nickel, Kambalda nickel concentrator and Mt Keith Mine were among the assets. In Mt Keith, around 300 workers lost their job in last February after BHP made a decision to cut the production from the mine due to a fall of nickel price.