Statement On BHP Nickel West

  • BHP to place Nickel West operations into temporary suspension
  • Support available for affected workers
  • Cook Government committed to diversifying the economy and creating long-term jobs

The Cook Labor Government has committed to supporting affected workers and communities while continuing to drive diversification of the Western Australian resources sector following BHP's disappointing decision to suspend operations at Nickel West.

BHP today announced its Nickel West operation would be temporarily suspended, which will have a significant impact on thousands of workers and on communities in Western Australia's Goldfields region.

Noting BHP's commitment to redeploying frontline workers, the Cook Government has measures in place to assist workers who need support in finding alternative employment, including upskilling or reskilling.

Workers can access free career support by calling their nearest Jobs and Skills Centres, which stand ready to provide one-on-one support for workers, including training and course information and help with job searching and job matching.

BHP has also committed $20 million to support the local communities affected by the decision and will honour contracts for supply of reagents in Kalgoorlie from its operation.

Importantly, BHP have today announced a range of measures to support the Cook Government's plan to diversify WA's economy and create long-term jobs for WA's future, including:

  • funding towards the Cook Government's proposed Critical Minerals Advanced Processing Facility, building on a $100 million Government investment included in the 2024-25 State Budget;
  • committing to pursue an Electricity Smelting Furnace in Kwinana with its project partners, putting WA at the forefront of the global green steel industry;
  • making BHP's refinery resources and expertise available for critical minerals research, in partnership with Curtin University, to support the Cook Government's Battery and Critical Minerals Strategy; and
  • $5 million to support apprenticeships in the building and construction industry through the Cook Government's Group Training Organisation wage subsidy program.

BHP has committed to reviewing the suspension by February 2027.

As stated by Premier Roger Cook:

"This is a disappointing decision and our thoughts are with the thousands of workers and their families affected by the suspension.

"My Government will do whatever it takes to support those workers and our regional communities through this difficult time.

"This announcement again shows the volatility of global commodity markets and reinforces the importance of my Government's work to diversify our economy and build more resilience into our resources sector.

"We're investing billions to set up our economy for the long term, helping to smooth the volatility in our mining sector and create long-term local jobs for WA.

"I welcome BHP's commitments today to supporting that work, through investing in our Critical Minerals Advanced Processing Facility and kickstarting work on a green steel industry in Kwinana.

"These are important projects that will help to push WA to the forefront of the global green steel and critical minerals processing industries."

As stated by Mines and Petroleum Minister David Michael:

"My thoughts are with the thousands of workers and their families affected by this decision.

"This is a reminder that the mining industry is subject to cyclical commodity price fluctuations and other market forces beyond its control.

"I am hopeful that many employees will remain with BHP given its commitment to redeploy all front-line workers.

"While this news is disappointing, job prospects in Western Australia are strong with the State's monthly employment growing by a massive 1.8 per cent or 28,000 people in May, the best result in the nation, while unemployment fell to 3.6 per cent, the lowest in the country.

"I remain confident WA's critical minerals industry will thrive in the longer term, supplying responsibly sourced, quality metal products that are essential to the world's energy transition.

"Critical minerals are an important part of WA's economic diversification story and the Government will continue to work towards positioning our State as a major global leader in downstream processing."

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