A day after nickel was designated as a “critical mineral” by the Australian government, which allowed producers to access billions of dollars in low-interest government loans, Western Australia said on Saturday that it would provide royalty relief to nickel miners in an effort to support the faltering industry.

In an attempt to increase the value of its mineral resources, Australia intends to develop a battery chemistry industry; however in the meantime, the country’s nickel industry is facing significant job losses as a result of a 40% reduction in pricing this year due to an increase in supply of the metal from Indonesia.

Premier of Western Australia Roger Cook announced a nickel financial support scheme on Saturday in a statement. Under the program, he said, nickel prices would be refunded at a rate of 50% for eighteen months, provided that the price per tonne remained below $20,000, repayable over 24 months.

“The Cook government will offer royalty relief to Western Australia’s crucial nickel industry, supporting thousands of local jobs as well as the state’s vision of becoming a global battery minerals processing hub,” the statement issued by the premier stated.

Nickel was added to Australia’s $2.6 billion Critical Minerals Facility on Friday by Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King. This means nickel-producing enterprises will now be eligible for funding through the facility, which provides low-interest loans and associated grant programs.

Low nickel prices have compelled Australia’s high-cost miners to declare a number of writedowns and reorganizations, and experts predicted last month that this will compel leading global miner BHP Group to reconsider its nickel strategy for this year.


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