BHP halts some operations at Australian nickel mine

SYDNEY Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:11pm EST

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SYDNEY Dec 17 (Reuters) - BHP Billiton said on Tuesday it would stop operations in the sub-level cave at its Perseverance mine due to safety concerns after a small earthquake at the Western Australian nickel mine in October.

The company said in a statement the move would result in job losses and have a possible impact on nickel production at the mine, located about 500 km (300 miles) from Perth.

The decision to halt operations at the Nickel West Leinster Perseverance Underground mine was made following an investigation by experts.

"Following this analysis BHP Billiton has decided it is unable to safely resume operations in the sub-level cave at Perseverance mine," the firm said in a statement.

The impact on production would be given in the company's December quarter operational review, it added.

BHP said Nickel West would continue to operate its processing facilities at Leinster, along with its other operations in Western Australia, and continue to maintain underground infrastructure at the Perseverance mine.

Mining would also resume at Rocky's Reward open cut mine, near Leinster, to provide an alternative ore supply, it said.

BHP's nickel production increased by 9 percent year-on-year in the September 2013 quarter to 40,000 tonnes, reflecting a strong operating performance by its Nickel West division, the company said on Oct 22.

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