From the very beginning, the high MgO content in the ores and the common occurrence of talc meant that the principal challenge facing the low grade Mt Keith deposit would be nickel recovery values. A mine to mill optimisation plan was put into place in 1999 to improve recoveries from the current low 70's. BHP Billiton commissioned its talc redesign project in 2012. In February 2016, BHP stated that in order to reduce operating costs at Mount Keith it would cut mining rates at the mine. The lower mining rate would be offset by the utilisation of existing ore stockpiles so the lower excavation rate was not expected to affect the output of nickel in concentrate. The scaling back of mining was originally due to be undertaken in the 2017 financial year but was brought forward as a consequence of low nickel prices in early 2016.