Thursday, March 24, 2011

BHP Billiton aproves $US12.8bn to expand iron ore and coal operations in Australia By Robb Stewart and Razak Musah Baba

 BHP Billiton has given the go-ahead to $US12.8 billion ($12.5bn) of investment to expand its coal and iron ore operations in Australia.

 Approval has been given for $US7.4bn of capital investment in the company's Western Australia iron ore operations to expand its capacity to more than 220 million tonnes a year, the Melbourne-based mining giant said today.  
 A further $US5bn will be invested in three metallurgical coal projects in the Bowen Basin of central Queensland that will add 4.9 million tonnes of annual mine capacity and boost the capacity of the Hay Point Coal Terminal, BHP Billiton said.
 The company said approval has also been given to spend $US400 million on the expansion of its Hunter Valley energy coal unit in New South Wales, which will enable production at Mt Arthur Coal to increase by 4 million tonnes to about 24 million tonnnes a year.
 The mining giant;s partners in its Pilbara iron ore operations are Itochu Minerals & Energy of Australia, Mitsui-Itochu Iron and Mitsui Iron Ore Corp.
 In WA, the investment includes:
* $US3.4bn (BHP Billiton share $US3.3bn) for the development of Jimblebar mine and rail links, and the procurement of mining equipment and rolling stock that will deliver initial capacity of 35 mtpa, with embedded options for expansion to 55 mtpa for incremental capital investment;
* $US2.3bn (BHP Billiton share $US1.9bn) to further develop Port Hedland, including two additional berths and shiploaders, a car dumper, connecting conveyor routes and associated rail works and rolling stock; and
* $US1.7bn (BHP Billiton share $US1.4bn) for port blending facilities and rail yards to enable ore blending, the expansion of resource life and to prepare for the future growth of the business beyond the inner harbour.
 BHP Billiton's share of the investment takes into account the 100 per cent-owned Jimblebar iron ore operation.


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