Archive | BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton puts Olympic Dam plan on backburner – by Neil Hume (Financial Times – November 28, 2017)

BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest mining company, has placed on the backburner plans to increase output from its giant Olympic Dam copper mine in Australia to 450,000 tonnes a year, opting for a less ambitious expansion project.

Ahead of a trip to the mine, the Anglo-Australian group told investors that its preferred development option was a $2.1bn plan that will see output rise from an estimated 150,000 tonnes this year to 330,000 tonnes by 2023.

BHP has talked for years about the potential of Olympic, the world’s third-largest copper deposit, which also boasts significant reserves of uranium and gold. As recently as 2015, the company was talking about the potential to increase production to 450,000 tonnes a year by 2025 by introducing a new heap leaching, or extraction, technology. Continue Reading →

‘500 years’ of resource, BHP makes the case for Olympic Dam expansion – by Darren Gray (Sydney Morning Herald – November 28, 2017)

BHP is eyeing a possible $US2.1 billion ($2.8 billion) expansion of its Olympic Dam underground mine in South Australia, where it says the copper resource is so large it would take 500 years to deplete at the current rate of mining.

Top BHP executives briefed investors and analysts on the global miner’s Olympic Dam operations and hopes for expansion on Tuesday in Adelaide, and confirmed that the so-called Brownfield Expansion (BFX) option at Olympic Dam was likely to be considered by BHP’s board in 2020.

But BHP executives stressed that any expansion at Olympic Dam would be “subject to strict capital allocation framework tests”. Investors and analysts are touring the site this week. Continue Reading →

BHP, Vale inch toward Samarco dam spill settlement – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – November 21, 2017)

BHP Billiton and Brazilian miner Vale have inched closer to a settlement over the multibillion-dollar lawsuits that continue to hang over their Samarco joint venture following 2015’s deadly dam disaster.

While a full settlement appears unlikely to be reached before the end of 2017, the miners have at least agreed with Brazilian prosecutors over the pathway toward a more substantial agreement.

It is now 20 months since federal prosecutors in Brazil lobbed a 155 billion real ($63 billion) claim against the Samarco partners over the damage caused by the collapse of a tailings dam at the iron ore business in November 2015. Continue Reading →

BHP to exit shale within two years, sell nickel assets – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – November 17, 2017)

World’s largest miner BHP (ASX, NYSE:BHP) (LON:BLT) expects to fully divest its US oil and gas business, which it acquired in a $20 billion deals spree in 2011, and is also seeking a buyer for its nickel business in Australia.

The announcements, made by chief executive Andrew Mackenzie during a conference call with investors and media on Thursday, come on the heels of global fund manager Aberdeen Standard Investments decision to fully support activist investor Elliott Management’s push for widespread structural changes at BHP.

Aberdeen is the third-biggest shareholder in BHP, with a 4.9% holding, just behind Elliott, which has a 5.04% stake in the group. The Anglo-Australian mining giant has been under pressure from Elliott Management to rethink its investment in oil and boost shareholder returns. Continue Reading →

BHP to step up copper exploration, expansions to meet electric vehicles sector’s rising demand – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – November 1, 2017)

World’s biggest miner getting ready to provide enough copper for the booming electric cars industry.

World number one mining company BHP (ASX, NYSE: BHP) (LON:BLT) plans to step up copper exploration and expansions as it wants to be ready to meet electric vehicles sector’s rising demand for copper.

“We want more copper resources in our portfolio. And we believe the most valuable pathway to achieving this is through exploration, the drill bit,” Danny Malchuk, president of operations at BHP’s Minerals Americas, said at Bloomberg’s LME Week forum on Wednesday.

Unlike most miners, which slashed exploration budgets during the downturn that ended last year, BHP has kept its copper exploration budget steady at an average of $60 million annually over the last four-to-five years out of its overall budget for exploration of around $1 billion, Reuters reports. Continue Reading →

LME WEEK-BHP aims for more copper, oil; steers away from EV minerals – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.K. – November 2, 2017)

LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) – The world’s biggest miner BHP’s response to the electric vehicle debate is to hunt for new reserves of copper and oil, while seeking a buyer for its assets to produce battery-grade nickel and steering clear of lithium and cobalt.

Arnoud Balhuizen, chief commercial officer at BHP, has said 2017 marks a “tipping point” for electric vehicles in that they have entered the mainstream of metals demand forecasting. In terms of sales, however, the mass move is further off as hybrids and conventional cars stay on the roads for a transition period.

Balhuizen estimates that shift would be around 2030, which is also when BHP expects demand for oil from light vehicles to peak. Other forms of oil demand, including from industry and heavy goods transport, are likely to be more sustained. Continue Reading →

Biggest Miner Tracking Trucker Brain Waves in Technology Race – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – November 1, 2017)

Truck drivers employed by the world’s biggest mining company are wearing baseball caps and hard helmets with sensors mounted inside to track their brain waves so they can get early warnings of fatigue and cut accidents.

BHP Billiton Ltd. has deployed the technology for 150 trucks at the Escondida copper mine it operates in Chile as part of efforts to boost safety, Chief Technology Officer Diane Jurgens told reporters Wednesday on the sidelines of a mining forum in Melbourne.

The company intends to adopt the method at other sites globally, including its giant iron ore mines in Australia, she said. Continue Reading →

Electric cars driving BHP’s nickel dream – by Paul Garvey (The Australian – October 18, 2017)

BHP has flagged it could double down on its foray into supplying nickel chemicals to the growing electric vehicle market as it looks to capitalise on the “new energy revolution”.

The head of BHP’s resurgent Nickel West nickel division, Eddy Haegel, told The Australian Nickel Conference in Perth yesterday that the company was looking to bring forward stage two of its proposed nickel sulphate processing plant at its Kwinana refinery after being inundated with inquiries from the world’s biggest battery manufacturers.

He also revealed the company was investigating the economic and technical feasibility of moving even further downstream with the potential development of a cathode precursor plant at Kwinana. “The new energy revolution is coming and it will be very good news for our local nickel industry,” Mr Haegel said. Continue Reading →

BHP, world’s largest miner, says 2017 is ‘tipping point’ for electric cars – by Clara Ferreira-Marques and Gavin Maguire (Reuters U.S. – September 26, 2017)

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – This year looks set to be the “tipping point” for electric cars, Arnoud Balhuizen, chief commercial officer at global miner BHP (BLT.L) said on Tuesday, with the impact for raw materials producers to be felt first in the metals market, and only later in oil.

“In September 2016 we published a blog and we set the question – could 2017 be the year of the electric vehicle revolution?” said Balhuizen, a company veteran who runs BHP’s commercial strategy, procurement and marketing from Singapore. “The answer is yes…2017 is the revolution year we have been speaking about. And copper is the metal of the future.”

Europe has begun a dramatic shift away from the internal combustion engine, although, globally, there are only roughly 1 million electric cars out of a global fleet of closer to 1.1 billion. BHP forecasts that could rise to 140 million vehicles by 2035, a forecast it says is on ‘the greener’ end. Continue Reading →

Iron Ore’s Kings Are Spending Again – by Rebecca Keenan and David Stringer (Bloomberg News – August 29, 2017)

The biggest iron ore producers in Australia are spending as much as $10 billion on mines so they can keep pumping out shipments to China as demand in their biggest customer shows little sign of easing.

Led by Rio Tinto Group, the nation’s top three exporters plan to add about 170 million metric tons of new capacity to replace exhausted mines and are studying investments in infrastructure and equipment to boost export capacity to their long-term targeted rates. Output will rise 9 percent to 843 million tons in 2022, according to Deutsche Bank AG estimates.

Forecasts of a slowdown in China’s steel industry are proving to be misplaced with BHP Billiton Ltd. saying production hasn’t yet peaked and likely won’t do so until the middle of next decade, while steel-making raw materials will continue performing well over the coming 12 months. Iron ore prices are trading near a four-month high. Continue Reading →

BHP Billiton still plans to ‘ultimately’ sell its nickel division – by Marcus Leroux (The Australian – August 29, 2017)

BHP Billiton intends to sell its nickel division despite its decision to invest $US43 million in boosting its capacity to meet demand created by the boom in electric vehicles.

In revealing that in the long term it will probably sell Nickel West, which operates in Western Australia, BHP is signalling that it is content to rely on its copper business for giving exposure to the increased demand for the materials that make batteries for green technologies such as electric vehicles.

BHP appears to be taking a more sober view of the looming battery rush than many of its rivals. Nickel West was stranded as an orphan asset after it was not included in BHP’s spin-off of South32. However, the company subsequently committed to it by boosting its processing capacity to meet the anticipated demand from the take-up of electric vehicles. Continue Reading →

BHP explores $2 billion stake sale in Canada potash mine: sources – by John Tilak and Greg Roumeliotis (Reuters U.S. – August 25, 2017)

TORONTO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd is considering selling a 25 percent interest in its Canadian potash mine project, a stake that could be worth close to $2 billion, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The move comes as activist investor Elliott Management Corp has been pushing the company for changes. BHP is working with an investment bank for the potential stake sale in its partly built Jansen, Saskatchewan potash project, the sources said this week.

For BHP, the move will help share the risk of developing the mine and reduce its exposure to the project, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Elliott’s BHP adventure pays dividends, but not total victory – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – August 22, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Aug 22 (Reuters) – It’s tempting to think that BHP Billiton has caved into demands by activist investor Elliott Advisors by agreeing to sell its U.S. onshore oil and gas business and by boosting the returns to shareholders.

After all, divesting the U.S. shale assets and lifting shareholder returns were two of Elliott’s three main points, made by the hedge fund in a letter to BHP directors in April. But it’s worth asking whether the decision to put the shale assets up for sale and increase dividends was motivated mainly by Elliott’s intervention, or whether they would have happened anyway.

As far as dividends are concerned, it was always likely that BHP would follow fellow miners like Rio Tinto in returning substantially more cash to investors, especially in the light of the huge boost to free cash flow from sharply higher prices for iron ore and coal. Continue Reading →

BHP’s US$14B Saskatchewan mine delay comes amid dark outlook for potash producers – by Jesse Snyder (Financial Post -August 23, 2017)

BHP Billiton Ltd.’s decision to delay a major potash mine in Saskatchewan comes amid a persistent weakening of demand for fertilizer, leading producers to shelve major investments and ink sizeable mergers with competitors to boost revenues.

On Tuesday, Melbourne-based BHP announced it would delay its multi-billion dollar Jansen potash mine, located about 150 kilometres east of Saskatoon. Analysts estimate the project could cost as much as US$14 billion to complete.

The decision comes amid a shaky outlook for Canadian potash producers, who have been forced to scale back major mining developments in the face of low commodity prices. It will also delay BHP’s entrance into the potash sector, as the company faces intense pressure from activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. to shed some of its underperforming assets. Continue Reading →

Funds to Go for BHP’s Jugular If Miner Doesn’t Deliver Goods – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – August 20, 2017)

BHP Billiton Ltd.’s truce with activist investors led by billionaire Paul Singer won’t last long if the world’s biggest mining company doesn’t pump up returns and deliver on strategic reform in the wake of its expected bumper profit report this week.

The naming in June of BHP’s youngest director Ken MacKenzie, 53, as chairman from next month has helped soothe disgruntled shareholders including Singer’s Elliott Management Corp., while continued demand growth in China for iron ore to coal is boosting prices, swelling earnings’ forecasts and raising expectations for higher payouts.

“They’ve got the most breathing space they’ve had in a long time,” Peter O’Connor, a Sydney-based analyst with Shaw and Partners Ltd., said by phone. “But if they mess up, the activists are going to be back on their jugular.” Continue Reading →