BHP sees nickel demand rising fourfold by 2050 on EV boom

Nickel West headquarters. (Image courtesy of BHP.)

Global demand for nickel will grow as much as fourfold over the next 30 years as electric vehicles almost entirely replace traditional cars, according to BHP Group Ltd.

The world’s biggest miner predicts nine in 10 cars sold by 2040 will be EVs, helping to boost worldwide usage of key battery materials including nickel. The market for nickel is already being transformed as car batteries take over from stainless steel as the major growth market.

“We anticipate demand for nickel in the next 30 years will be 200% to 300% of the demand in the previous 30 years,” Jess Farrell, BHP’s asset president of Nickel West, will say at a conference in Sydney on Thursday, according to a pre-released copy of the speech.

About 85% of the nickel sulphate produced at BHP’s Nickel West refinery in Western Australia already goes to the battery sector, up from just 10% six years ago. The miner once considered selling the plant before reversing that plan in 2019 as nickel’s long-term outlook brightened.

Farrell will say that BHP’s nickel business is poised to benefit from President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which includes incentives for American carmakers to get more materials from US-friendly nations. Manufacturers will receive tax credits on making EVs, provided they source enough of their inputs from countries — like Australia — that have a free-trade deal with the US.

Australia is now a “favored jurisdiction from which to source commodities,” Farrell will say.

(By James Fernyhough)

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