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BHP extends Noront bid deadline again amid Wyloo talks

The Eagle’s Nest nickel-copper-PGM project in northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire region. (Image courtesy of BHP.)

BHP (ASX, LON, NYSE: BHP) has once again extended the deadline for Noront Resources’ (TSX-V: NOT) investors to accept or refuse its bid from December 14 to January 14, 2022, as talks with rival Wyloo Metals regarding the imminent takeover of the Canadian miner progress.

The world’s largest miner and the Canadian company have also amended a support agreement inked in July and amended on October 19 relating to Noront’s backing of BHP’s offer in order to extend the outside date in that agreement from December 14 to January 21, 2022. 

BHP and Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Wyloo have been engaged in a tug of war with competing offers for Noront. The Melbourne, Australia-based mining giant latest bid for Noront stands at C$0.75 per share.

At stake is Noront’s early-stage Eagle’s Nest nickel and copper deposit in the ‘Ring of Fire’ in northern Ontario. The asset has been billed by Wyloo as the largest high-grade nickel discovery in Canada since the Voisey’s Bay nickel find in the eastern province of Newfoundland and Labrador.   

Eagle’s Nest is expected to begin commercial production in 2026 with the mine running initially for 11 years. 

The mine’s start date has repeatedly been pushed back by Noront due to successive federal and provincial governments’ inability to consult and reach a unanimous agreement with First Nations in the area. 

Nickel fever

The match between the two Australian companies is the latest evidence of the rush global miners are in to secure an adequate supply of battery metals ahead of an imminent surge in demand for electric vehicles. 

Nickel production would need to increase nearly fourfold to meet expected demand for electric and hybrid vehicles, the company estimates. Likewise, copper output will also need to grow exponentially to meet demand from renewable power generation, battery storage, electric vehicles, charging stations and related grid infrastructure. 

Tesla boss Elon Musk has expressed worries about a looming nickel shortage. He pleaded with miners last year to produce more nickel, promising a “giant contract” for supply produced efficiently and in an “environmentally sensitive way.” 

Last month, the US EV giant inked a multi-year nickel supply deal with New Caledonia’s Prony Resources. The contract guarantees it about 42,000 tonnes of the metal needed to produce the batteries that power its EVs. 

Tesla also has a similar agreement with BHP.

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