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Nickel is the new gold rush. Out here in western Australia's desert, global miner BHP says it's set on investing into exploring for nickel, and it's all because of the new global drive towards electric vehicles. That demand for EVs and the raw materials needed to propel them could be the start of a renewed gold rush for Australia's mining industry.
Reuters' Melanie Burton is covering the story.>> As people are moving more towards buying electric vehicles, or EVs, like Tesla, we are seeing greater demand for rechargeable batteries. And Australia is a major supplier of materials for the electric vehicle boom. Australia has or is producing half the world's lithium and also nickel.
In fact, BHP is building one of the world's largest nickel chemical plants just outside of Perth.>> Nickel is almost as important to EVs as petroleum is to their gas-driven cousins. Using more nickel in batteries means that cars can travel further on a single charge. It also reduces the cost by cutting down the need for expensive cobalt in the car's batteries.
That need for nickel is also bringing more than miners as companies try to secure their own supplies.>> What's happening now, as some of the world's largest auto makers and battery makers, so Toyota, Tesla,
of South Korea, China's Great Wall, are coming to Australia to secure their supply contracts.
And those battery makers are now increasingly looking at using more nickel.>> BHP says its new nickel chemical plant near Perth will come online in April next year, and there's plans to double capacity down the line. After a downturn for Australia's mining industry, the new rush to battery materials like nickel could mean better times are on their way back.