By Rhiannon Hoyle
SYDNEY--BHP Group Ltd. (BHP.AU) wants to raise its bets on a pending nickel boom tied to rising demand for electric vehicles, an about-turn for the world's biggest miner which had sought to sell its nickel business in recent years.
Peter Beaven, BHP's chief financial officer, said on Wednesday that the world's biggest miner by market value is interested in building its resources of nickel sulfide, which can be processed into sulfate for use in batteries.
Last week, Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie said the company has decided to keep its Australian nickel-mining and processing operations, for which it failed to find a buyer in recent years, because of expected growth in battery markets and the scarcity of nickel sulfide assets.
BHP is also seeking to increase its options for growth in copper and oil, Mr. Beaven said in prepared remarks for an investor briefing.
"We can, with a degree of conviction, say that adding options in copper and nickel sulfides are likely to be a sound investment," he said.
The miner on Tuesday raised its expectations for the number of electric vehicles that it expects on the roads in coming decades, citing declining battery costs and rising interest among automakers, particularly in China.
BHP will focus on exploring for those commodities, although it won't discount acquiring assets if needed, Mr. Beaven added.
Mr. Beaven said BHP is unlikely to increase its production of iron ore or steelmaking coal materially, rather only increasing volumes through its productivity campaign.
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