BHP Group back in Africa with US$40m Tanzania nickel investment

TANZANIA – Diversified major BHP will make a US$90-million investment into private firm Kabanga Nickel to accelerate the development of the Kabanga nickel project in Tanzania, the first new bet by the world’s biggest miner in Africa in years, reports Mining Weekly.

Kabanga Nickel announced an initial US$40 million investment by the miner, which will convert into an 8.9% equity stake in Kabanga Nickel once approvals and conditions are met.

Once invested and on conversion the second tranche of US$50 million will increase BHP’s equity stake in Kabanga Nickel to 17.8%, thereby valuing the project at US$658 million.

On satisfaction of additional conditions, BHP will secure the right to make a further investment in Kabanga Nickel subject to achieving certain agreed milestones.

“We are delighted to announce this partnership with BHP. It highlights the world-class nature of the Kabanga deposit and its importance in helping meet the crucial decarbonization challenge facing the world today,” said Kabanga Nickel CEO Chris Showalter.

“BHP is the ideal partner for Kabanga Nickel, bringing significant advantages and expertise that will enable us to move ahead with the project. BHP’s investment reflects the project’s strong environmental and social governance credentials and its role in improving environmental performance throughout the nickel value chain.”

Meanwhile, BHP will also invest US$10 million into green technology firm Lifezone to advance the roll-out of its patented hydrometallurgical technologies, which are more cost-efficient than smelting, have a significantly lower environmental impact, and will ensure that finished Class 1 battery-grade nickel, copper, and cobalt are produced in Tanzania

Showalter said that BHP’s funding support of Lifezone’s hydromet technology would drive progress towards a greener world.

“Through development of Kabanga and Lifezone hydromet, Tanzania will have a growing role in the supply of the battery metals needed to move to a global low carbon economy.”

The investment into Lifezone allows for new patent applications, as well as research and development work that will further commercialize the Lifezone hydrometallurgical technology. Lifezone currently has patents granted in over 150 countries.

The investment into the Kabanga nickel project will support an acceleration in the mine’s development, including an enhanced metallurgical drilling program to enable the update of the definitive feasibility study and support the construction plans for the hydromet refinery.

These studies are expected to be completed by the end of 2022 with site and infrastructure development is already underway.

The investment will also support the hiring and training of local Tanzanian talent.

The current project development timeline anticipates the first production in 2025 and output will ramp up to target a minimum yearly production of 40,000 t of nickel, 6,000 t of copper and 3,000 t of cobalt. 

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