BHP Billiton says in talks to sell Nickel West unit

Tue Aug 19, 2014 4:30am EDT
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* BHP excludes Australia's Nickel West division from spin off

* CEO says in sale talks with interested partiest

By James Regan

SYDNEY, Aug 19 (Reuters) - BHP Billiton is in talks with potential buyers for all, or part, of its Nickel West division in Australia after excluding the business from a major restructuring.

"We continue to talk to interested parties," BHP Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie said. "This is a matter of commercial discussions with several potential buyers."

The world's biggest miner is spinning off its aluminium, coal, manganese and silver assets and its nickel business in Colombia into a new company.

BHP in May started its review of Nickel West, which is made up of the Mount Keith, Cliffs and Leinster mines, concentrators, and the 100,000-tonnes-per-year Kalgoorlie smelter and the 60,000-toness-per-year Kwinana refinery in Western Australia.

In the 12 months to June 30, 2015 Nickel West is scheduled to produce 95,000 tonnes of nickel, 55 percent to be produced from third-party ores. World output in calendar 2014 is forecast to reach 1.9 million tonnes, according to Australia's Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics.