BHP Group BHP recently entered into a deal to supply nickel sulphate to Prime Planet Energy & Solutions (“PPES”), one of Japan’s leading lithium-ion battery producers. This will enable Prime Planet Energy & Solutions to develop lower carbon batteries, which will be supplied to Electric Vehicle (“EV”) manufacturers including Toyota Motor Corporation TM.
To this effect, a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) has been signed between BHP Group, Prime Planet Energy & Solutions and Toyota Tsusho Corporation. Notably, Prime Planet Energy & Solutions is a joint venture between Toyota Motor and Panasonic Corporation. Toyota Tsusho Corporation is a general trading company that is part of the Toyota group.
Per the MOU, BHP Group will supply nickel sulphate to Prime Planet Energy & Solutions from its newly constructed Nickel West facility in Western Australia. Nickel West is one of the most sustainable nickel producers in the world. On Oct 1, BHP Group announced that it has produced the first nickel sulphate crystals from the plant. The plant is the first of its kind in Australia and will produce 100,000 tons of nickel sulphate per year, when fully operational. Its production will be enough to make 700,000 electric vehicle batteries each year.
BHP Group, along with Prime Planet Energy & Solutions and Toyota Tsusho Corporation, is making every effort to create a more sustainable and transparent industry, which is working collectively to lift standards and reduce emissions. According to the terms of the MoU, the parties will seek to identify ways to make the Japanese battery supply chain more sustainable by lowering carbon emissions in battery value chains. They will also explore the possibility of recycling battery scrap and used batteries at BHP Group’s Nickel West for further processing and production of nickel bearing products.
Amid the heightening climate-change concerns, development of batteries used to power EVs is gaining utmost importance. This, in turn, has fueled demand for metals, particularly copper and nickel, utilized in the production of batteries. Riding on this, demand for nickel in batteries is estimated to surge more than 500% over the next decade. Thus, BHP Group has been investing in its Nickel West facilities. The company is one of the world’s leading nickel suppliers to the battery metals market, with 85% of its nickel metal currently sold to the battery market. It delivers some of the world’s most sustainable and lowest carbon emission nickel to customers. BHP Group is working toward its strategy of focusing on commodities (copper, nickel and potash) that will help it capitalize on growing global trends such as decarbonisation, electrification population growth, rising living standards in the developing countries among others.
Earlier in July, BHP Group entered into an agreement with Tesla TSLA to supply nickel from the Nickel West mine. In addition to the supply agreement, BHP and Tesla will collaborate on ways to make the battery supply chain more sustainable with a focus on end-to-end raw material traceability using blockchain and technical exchange for battery raw materials production. The companies will also focus on promoting the importance of sustainability in the resources sector, including identifying partners who are most aligned with BHP and Tesla’s principles and battery value chains. BHP Group will also collaborate with Tesla on energy storage solutions to identify opportunities to lower carbon emissions in their respective operations through increased use of renewable energy paired with battery storage.
BHP Group’s shares have fallen 18.4% so far this year compared with the industry’s decline of 8.9%. This can primarily be attributed to the recent plunge in iron ore prices due to weak demand in China on account of its intensified curbs on steel production and slowdown across its property sector. In the third quarter of 2021, iron ore plummeted 49% — the first quarterly loss since the first quarter of 2020.
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Zacks Rank & a Key Pick
BHP Group currently carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).
A better-ranked stock in the basic materials space includes Veritiv Corporation VRTV which sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Veritiv has a projected earnings growth rate of 214.9% for the current year. The company’s shares have skyrocketed 359% year to date.
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