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.”
Since finishing the Daunia and Caval Ridge mines in Queensland in 2013, BHP has said it is focused on making its coking coalmines and ports in Queensland, which make it the world’s biggest coking coal miner, as efficient as possible.
This included closing its Gregory Crinum mine. But last year BHP flagged a low-cost Caval Ridge plant expansion, in the first signs there may be more production on the way.
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