Featured image: BHP Nickel
Tesla is committed to reducing its carbon footprint. The company aims to use nickel to store energy in batteries. “Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk during the Q2 2020 Earnings Call. This is what prompted nickel mining companies around the world to reconsider the process of mining this metal.
BHP has signed a new deal that will see renewable electricity generation integrated into the power supply for its Nickel West operations in W.A., including solar, wind, and energy storage technologies, according to Renew Economy.
The new deal, a 15-year power purchase agreement with Southern Cross Energy, extends the current arrangement between the two companies to 2038 and paves the way for BHP to supply “sustainable nickel” to its customers, which could soon include Tesla.
BHP said it has begun installing an 18.5 MW solar and battery system at Nickel West's facilities in Leinster and Mount Keith. A 17MW waste heat steam turbine system was also being evaluated at the Kalgoorlie Smelter, as a way to provide low-emissions electricity from furnace heat recovery.
“These projects contribute to the first phase of our emissions reduction strategy, as we continue to evaluate plans for additional renewable energy supply to decarbonize our nickel operations,” Nickel West asset president Eduard Haegel said in a statement, suggesting there might be renewable energy offtake deal in the works too.
“We are at the beginning of an energy revolution that will transform our world and materially increase demand for nickel. BHP Nickel West is well placed to provide our nickel units sustainably, and with one of the lowest carbon footprints.”
BHP aims to establish itself as a major supplier of materials for the production of batteries for electric vehicles. The company has already started ramping up nickel production after Musk urged miners to increase the production of the key material used in the company's batteries.
“His call for nickel miners to grow quickly offers real evidence of the place nickel has as a strategic battery metal going forward,” Haegel said. He noted that the company’s integrated value chain and the sulphide nature of its nickel deposits already gave Nickel West “a global advantage in the sustainable production of nickel.”
And last year, BHP decided to switch to 100% renewable energy for its huge copper plants in Chile from the mid-2020s and terminate an existing contract with a coal producer in that country.
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