BHP shuts down Australian nickel mine

Global mining giant BHP Billiton has shut down its Leinster Perseverance underground nickel mine in its Nickel West operations in Western Australia, which is expected to result in around 200 job losses.

The company said in a release that the closure of the mine, which was under suspension since 31 October following a significant seismic event, was purely on safety grounds.

Based on detailed technical assessment by independent experts on the risks related to the sub-level cave operations in the mine, BHP has decided that it is unable to safely resume operations in the sub-level cave at Perseverance mine, according to the statement.

The company's other Nickel West operations at Mt Keith, Cliffs, Kalgoorlie, Kambalda and Kwinana were not affected by the seismic event and will continue to operate as normal, along with the processing facilities at Leinster. BHP will maintain its underground infrastructure in the closed mine.

The company had earlier said that due to the suspension of the Perseverance underground operation, there is expected to be a reduction in total saleable nickel production at Nickel West in the December 2013 quarter.

BHP plans to resume operations at its Rocky's Reward open cut mine near Leinster, to provide an alternative ore supply source.

Broader implications of the decision and the impact on production will be reported in the December quarter operational review, the release said.

Nickel West Asset president Paul Harvey said the company would continue to work closely with employees affected by the decision and help find redeployment opportunities within Nickel West and the broader BHP Billiton Group where possible.

''The health, safety and wellbeing of our people is paramount; it is the first of our charter values. As this change is implemented, we will continue to treat our people and stakeholders with the utmost care and respect and maintain our strong focus on safety,'' he said.