Archive | BHP Billiton

Coal ‘an attractive business’: BHP Billiton chief Andrew Mackenzie – by Matt Chambers (The Australian – February 23, 2017)

BHP Billiton says Chinese coalmining policy that has reined in production means it could develop more Queensland coking coalmines after three years of focusing on squeezing the most cash it could out of the mines and not promoting their growth.

Speaking to investors last night after delivering a $US3.2 billion ($4.2bn) first-half profit, chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said coal remained an attractive business.

“There is no doubt the Chinese tried to restructure their mining activities in both coals, and indeed in iron ore, through their restructuring of steel,” Mr Mackenzie said. “It has probably made the bulks a little bit more investable than they would otherwise have been.” Continue Reading →

World’s biggest miner hasn’t given up hope for potash – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – February 21, 2017)

BHP Billiton (ASX, NYSE:BHP) (LON:BLT), the largest mining company by market capitalization, sees potash as a key commodity in which to base its future growth despite prices are still hovering just above $210 a tonne, less than a half what they were only five years ago.

“Our preference long term is to grow in oil and copper, then possibly potash,” the firm’s chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie said when releasing first half of the year results Tuesday.

BHP seems to be in no rush to advance its massive $2.6 billion Jansen potash project in Canada’s Saskatchewan province. For years the company has been sinking shafts and installing some infrastructure on site, but has not fully committed itself to the project, nor received board approval for the mine. Continue Reading →

BHP to Trump: protectionism will hurt growth, commodity demand – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.K. – February 21, 2017)

U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist stance is likely to erode economic growth over the longer term and therefore demand for raw materials, the chief executive of the world’s biggest miner, BHP Billiton, said on Tuesday.

Mining stocks rallied on expectations Trump’s policies would lead to increased infrastructure spending in the United States and, just before Trump took office, Mackenzie had a meeting with the president-elect, which officials said was productive.

Andrew Mackenzie said it would be good news for the resources sector if Trump could unlock “the challenge of bringing more money into infrastructure”. But he said Trump’s protectionist stance was likely to be bad for growth and therefore ultimately for commodities demand. Continue Reading →

Mining Companies Are Back in the Black – by Scott Patterson and Rhiannon Hoyle (Wall Street Journal – February 21, 2017)

Coming out of a punishing downturn, executives are still cautious despite the return to profitability

The world’s biggest miners are profit machines again, cashing in on soaring commodity prices and rewarding investors who stuck with them through a brutal downturn.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest miner by market value, said Tuesday it earned a net profit of $3.2 billion for the second half of 2016 after posting a $5.7 billion loss in the year-ago period. Anglo American PLC, the fifth-largest mining company, reported a net profit of $1.6 billion for all of 2016, a dramatic rebound from 2015, when it lost $5.6 billion.

The solid performance builds on strong results posted by British-Australian miner Rio Tinto PLC, which two weeks ago said it earned $4.6 billion in 2016 following a loss of $866 million in the prior year. Switzerland-based Glencore PLC is scheduled to release 2016 results on Thursday, with analysts widely predicting a return to profit. Continue Reading →

Miners Enjoy Fastest Comeback in a Decade on Surging Profits – by Kevin Crowley and David Stringer (Bloomberg News – February 21, 2017)

The speed of the mining recovery is faster than anything that’s been seen in the past decade. BHP Billiton Ltd. and Anglo American Plc on Tuesday reported the biggest profit increases since at least 2007 on deep cost cuts and rebounding metal prices. The earnings exceeded analysts estimates and highlight mining’s dramatic reversal of fortune in the past year.

The industry is coming back from a crisis that forced some of the top metal producers to sell assets, cut costs and rein in spending after years of over-investment. Metal prices have largely recovered from the downturn and several of the biggest mines are profitable, instead of bleeding cash.

“You can see how cash generative this business can be,” Paul Gait, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. in London, said by phone. “I think 2017 is a year of strategic re-positioning and rethinking.” Continue Reading →

BHP Billiton boosts payout on commodities surge – by James Regan (Reuters U.S. – February 21, 2017)

SYDNEY – Mining giant BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) (BLT.L) rewarded shareholders with a bigger than expected payout on Tuesday, reflecting a growing confidence across the sector as rising commodity prices delivered a cash windfall.

BHP and other miners are basking in a welcome surge in commodity prices on the back of a renewed appetite in China for imported raw materials, with iron ore prices climbing more than 80 percent in 2016 and coal up as much as 300 percent.

However, BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said the company’s No. 1 focus was still on paying down debt, highlighting an uncertain economic and political outlook. “We preferred, on balance, most of it (extra cash) to go toward the strengthening of our balance sheet,” Mackenzie told reporters. “But we were very keen to signal to our shareholders our commitment to strong cash returns.” Continue Reading →

Mining giants ride copper’s price wave – by Scott Patterson (Dow Jones/The Australian – February 20, 2017)

Copper bulls are looking smart — for now. Some of the world’s biggest mining companies, which have giant copper portfolios, are now poised to reap the rewards, with Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Glencore set to report full- or half-year earnings this week.

The industrial metal has surged more than 30 per cent in the past year, providing rocket fuel for companies that were staring into the abyss a year ago. Shares in Anglo and Glencore have more than tripled in the past 12 months. BHP, which has faced headwinds from a fatal tailings-dam disaster at one of its mining operations in Brazil, is up 62 per cent.

Rio Tinto, which is focusing more on its copper business, offered a preview of how miners’ fortunes have flipped to the upside when it reported earnings earlier this month. The Anglo-Australian mining giant said it returned to a profit in 2016 with $US4.62 billion in earnings, increased its dividend and announced a $US500 million share buyback. Continue Reading →

[Australia mining] Brendon Grylls accuses BHP, Rio-backed mining lobby of ‘wet lettuce’ fight – by Julie-anne Sprague (Australian Financial Review – February 8, 2017)

WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls has urged BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto to spend millions of dollars on a campaign against Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s reluctance to change the GST distribution system.

Mr Grylls accused mining lobby group Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) of a ‘wet lettuce’ fight with the Federal government during a live ABC radio debate in Perth on Wednesday.

CME chief executive Reg Howard-Smith said the lobby group had spent $2 million fighting Mr Grylls’s proposal, which combined funds from BHP, Rio, the Minerals Council of Australia and the CME. Mr Howard-Smith agreed the GST distribution system was unfair and that the lobby group had publicly declared Western Australia needed a fairer deal. Continue Reading →

Workers at BHP Billiton Copper Mine In Chile Go On Strike – by Ryan Dube (Wall Street Journal – February 9, 2017)

Workers at BHP Billiton Ltd.’s majority-owned Minera Escondida copper mine in Chile went on strike Thursday, a union official said, putting pressure on the country’s sluggish economy and copper prices over fears of shortages.

“People didn’t show up to work,” said Carlos Allendes, a spokesman for Escondida’s largest union, Union No.1. “The strike has begun.” The strike at Escondida, the world’s biggest copper mine, follows unsuccessful talks between the union and management for a new collective agreement.

Escondida, which accounts for about 5% of the metal’s global output, said late Wednesday it would halt operations during the strike to ensure safety. It said the local labor regulator gave it permission to allow 80 employees to continue working to perform critical functions, including maintenance. Continue Reading →

Workers at Chile’s Escondida copper mine to strike Thursday: union – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – February 7, 2017)

ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE – Workers are set to strike on Thursday at BHP Billiton Plc’s Escondida copper mine after contract talks mediated by the Chilean government failed to reach a deal, the main union at the world’s largest copper mine told Reuters.

The union has warned that a strike at the Chilean copper mine could be lengthy, potentially affecting global supplies of a metal used in everything from construction to telecommunications.

BHP Billiton said it planned to halt production during the strike since it could not guarantee the safety of the 80 workers the government had authorized to remain at the mine to perform “critical duties”, such as equipment upkeep and adherence to environmental protocols. Continue Reading →

Right conditions will unlock shared value for all South Africans – South32 – by Martin Creamer ( – February 6, 2017)

CAPE TOWN ( – The right conditions will enable mining companies to deliver inclusive growth and meet the expectations of stakeholders, as well as deliver superior returns to shareholders, South32 president and COO Africa Mike Fraser said on Monday.

In delivering a forceful address at the Investing in African Mining Indaba, Fraser reinforced mining’s might but emphasised that it is absolutely essential it is backed by a supportive legislative, regulatory and administrative environment to realise its full potential.

“We believe that South Africa’s mining industry still has the potential to grow. The resources are here and the challenge is to work together to create an environment where the minerals that are underground are converted into wealth above ground and thereby create shared value for all,” he told the conference that is being attended by Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online. Continue Reading →

BHP drives the next tectonic shift in Australian coal – by Matthew Stevens(Australian Financial Review – February 6, 2017)

Two weeks ago BHP Billiton rolled a dump truck driving simulator into a recruitment office in Townsville. While this is but a modest technical achievement, the training facility represents another important milestone in the changing the demographics of the Australian coal industry.

BHP operates two mining joint ventures in Queensland and it is the bigger of them – the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance – that irritated the coal unions by turning on this new training kit.

The bone of contention here is that BMA has identified Townsville as a new source of workers ostensibly, but not exclusively, for its Saraji mine. The plan is to employ upwards of 100 new fly-in, fly out workers through labour hire firms. They will, initially at least, drive the trucks and shovels that move the overburden at Saraji. They might eventually become a sort of truck and shovel driving flying squad who can be deployed anywhere around the BMA fleet. Continue Reading →

BHP-Vale Mine Restart Encounters New Obstacle: Small-Town Mayor – by R.T. Watson (Bloomberg News – January 26, 2017)

BHP Billiton Ltd. and Vale SA’s crippled Samarco mine, once the world’s second-largest producer of iron-ore pellets, has a new obstacle threatening to slow its much-anticipated restart: a small-town mayor.

The Brazilian city of Santa Barbara declined to sign off this week on a plan for Samarco to continue to use water from a nearby river. Without the approval, Samarco won’t be able to complete an ongoing environmental study required by state regulators for a restart, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.

“There are environmental impacts related to the water supply that need to be thoroughly studied,” Leris Braga, the 34-year-old mayor of the town of 30,000 people in Minas Gerais state, said by telephone. He is calling for a separate study to be done to test for possible disruptions to water flow. Continue Reading →

BHP Billiton: speed of rail upgrade puts miner on fast track to boost in Pilbara output – by Matt Chambers (The Australian – January 26, 2017)

BHP Billiton is set to ramp up its West Australian iron ore mines, rail and ports to full ­capacity quicker than previously flagged as a two-year rail system overhaul looks set for completion in little more than a year.

The extra rail capacity could deliver up to an extra 10 million tonnes of iron ore sales in the next two years, more than offsetting the impacts of power outages and unplanned maintenance at the Olympic Dam copper and ­uranium mine in South Australia, which caused a 40,000-tonne cut in copper guidance this year.

In its quarterly production ­report, released yesterday, BHP said that an extensive overhaul of the company’s big private Pilbara region railways, ordered by ­Australian mining president Mike Henry in March last year as one of his first edicts in the position, was moving at a cracking pace. Continue Reading →

BHP Billiton, Vale closer to Samarco dam settlement – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – January 19, 2017)

BHP Billiton and Brazilian miner Vale have struck a preliminary agreement with Brazilian prosecutors, which lays out a path for a future settlement of the largest legal claim eminating from the Samarco dam disaster.

The dam disaster killed 19 people in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais in November 2015, and as the owners of Samarco, BHP and Vale have been locked in legal negotiations with Brazilian regulators and prosecutors ever since.

​The Brazilian government agreed to a reparation and rehabilitation package worth 9.2 billion Brazilian Real ($3.7 billion) in March 2016, but that deal was suspended when independent federal prosecutors in Brazil lobbed a 155 billion Brazilian Real ($63.7 billion) claim in May 2016. Continue Reading →