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BHP Nickel West operations. Image: BHP

BHP is looking at investing in additional early-stage development projects as the company aims to grow its copper and nickel portfolio.

BHP chief executive officer Mike Henry spoke at the company’s annual general meeting on Thursday, suggesting the success of its current copper and nickel projects should inspire more developments to follow.

“In copper, we have some solid growth ahead over the next five years, thanks to the recently commissioned Spence growth project (in Chile), improving grades at Escondida (in Chile) and more reliable production out of Olympic Dam (in South Australia),” Henry said.

“We have increased our exploration effort and have work underway in Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Mexico, the US and Australia.”

In October, BHP executed an exploration joint venture with Red Tiger Resources to bring the Intercept Hill copper project, which borders Oak Dam in South Australia, into production.

In May, BHP exercised a farm-in agreement for the early-stage Elliott copper project in the Northern Territory, entering into a joint venture with Encounter Resources.

Henry said BHP has invested more than $US5 billion ($6.86 billion) in development, growth and exploration across its business.

BHP’s further nickel endeavours is seeing it make a play for Canadian nickel miner Noront Resources, with the early-stage Eagle’s Nest nickel and copper deposit in northern Ontario’s ‘Ring of Fire’ at stake.

With BHP and Noront Resources currently in discussions regarding the company’s $C0.75 ($0.82) per share play for Noront, BHP extended the deadline of the offer from November 16 until November 30.

Henry also highlighted BHP’s decarbonisation efforts, fronted by the company’s recently released Climate Transition Action Plan.

“Within this plan we outline our continuing commitment to net-zero operational emissions by no later than 2050, and our mid-term target of at least 30 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 on 2020 levels,” Henry said.

“We’ve been taking action on this front for over two decades now and our signing of multiple renewable energy contracts recently will help accelerate this reduction in the near term.”

It comes after BHP agreed to sell its 80 per cent share in BHP Mitsui Coal (BMC) to Stanmore Resources earlier this week, offloading the Poitrel and South Walker Creek metallurgical coal mines, plus Red Mountain Infrastructure, and the Wards Well development.