In a move that some believe was inevitable, BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) announced last Wednesday that it has abandoned plans to sell its Western Australian Nickel West business. Instead it will keep it in its portfolio as a non-core asset. Nickel West, which includes the Mt. Keith, Cliffs and Leinster mines, has been in limbo since May of this year, when BHP put it under review. At the time, the company said that it was considering "all options" for the asset's long-term future, "including the potential sale of all or parts of the business." As time passed, it became clear that a sale was the preferred option for BHP. In August, the miner revealed plans to focus on the "four pillars" of iron ore, copper, coal and petroleum by spinning off its aluminum and manganese businesses, along with its Australian metallurgical coal assets and South African thermal coal operations. Individual assets like the Colombia-based Cerro Matoso nickel project and Cannington zinc-lead-silver mine were also earmarked for the new company. Nickel West, however, was set aside in hopes that it would be sold separately. So what went wrong? Interest wasn't the problem. According The Globe and Mail, Glencore (LSE:GLEN) and China's Jinchuan Group were potential buyers, and indeed the Financial Times quotes Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of the former, as saying, "Nickel West is out in the market and you know us, we kick tyres and look at anything which is available." Instead it seems that price may have been at least part of the issue. The West Australian states that BHP originally placed a value of $500 to $800 million on Nickel West, but would have sold it for as little as $300 million if the buyer had agreed to take on clean-up costs for the sites, which analysts have pegged at AU$1 billion. However, industry sources have said that "no final bids received over the past fortnight came close" to what the mining giant was looking for.