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Japan's giants commit to Aussie nickel joint venture

A nickel explorer has formed a joint venture with two of Japan's industrial giants as Australia's allies move to secure long-term supplies of battery minerals.



Nickel explorer Ardea Resources will accelerate a "globally significant" $3 billion nickel project in Western Australia despite a glut in the battery metal.


Ardea announced on Monday a co-operation agreement with Sumitomo Metal Mining and Mitsubishi Corporation to form a 50:50 joint venture to develop the project located in the Goldfields region of Western Australia.


Locking in the strategic partners, Ardea has aligned itself with Japan's industrial giants as Australia and its allies move to break China's stranglehold on battery minerals.


"This is a globally significant nickel-cobalt project that shows how Australian nickel projects can succeed economically, while also meeting the world's best environment, social and governance standards," Resources Minister Madeleine King said.


"I look forward to this project going from strength to strength as both Australia and Japan work towards the global energy transition," she said. 


Australia ranks first in the global rankings for nickel resources, slightly ahead of Indonesia where labour and environmental standards are lower, but is lagging its neighbour in the production stakes.


Once in production the Kalgoorlie Nickel Project Goongarrie Hub is expected to be one of the largest nickel-cobalt producers in Australia, Ardea CEO Andrew Penkethman said.


Andrew Penkethman says the $3b project will progress a commitment to the global energy transition.


The project stretches almost 25km from Goongarrie Hill in the north to Scotia Dam in the south, and is expected to produce at least 30,000 tonnes of nickel and 2000 tonnes of cobalt a year for the next 40 years.


Mr Penkethman said Sumitomo Metal Mining and Mitsubishi are "high quality partners" to drive the project forward.


"Ardea acknowledges Japan as a well-respected partner of Australia and looks forward to being part of the growing relationship between the two nations, as they progress their commitment to the global energy transition," he said.


The parties have advanced negotiations on the terms of the offtake and shareholders agreements, with transaction completion expected by the end of the September quarter of 2024.


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