Archive | BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton to be sued by investors over dam collapse that caused Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster – by Ben Chapman (Independent – May 16, 2018)

BHP Billiton faces legal action from shareholders who say the mining giant misled them over safety measures at a dam in Brazil which broke, killing 19 people and causing Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster.

When the Fundão dam broke in 2015, waste from an iron ore mine operated by Samarco, a joint venture between BHP and its partner Vale, devastated the local area in Minas Gerais state.

A red wave of clay, sand and water polluted miles of river, killing aquatic life, leaving hundreds of people homeless, and flowing out to sea. Australian law firm Phi Finney McDonald now plans to sue the multinational, which is listed on stock markets in London, Sydney and Johannesburg, on behalf of investors. Continue Reading →

Biggest Miner Says China’s Shift to Quality Iron Ore Will Hold – by David Stringer and David Ingles (Bloomberg News – May 7, 2018)

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest miner, forecasts reforms in China’s steel sector will continue to hand an advantage to suppliers of higher-quality iron ore and coking coal as consumption of the alloy keeps growing well into the next decade.

Steel mills are likely to retain about two-thirds of the improvements in margins seen since a push began in China in late 2015 to reduce excess capacity and meet more stringent environmental standards, Chief Commercial Officer Arnoud Balhuizen said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

“This drove — and is driving — a continuous demand for higher-quality raw materials,” which has resulted in wider spreads between premium and lower-grade iron ore and coking coal, Balhuizen said. “We think these price differentials will be sustained — for at least two-thirds of what we have seen last year.” Continue Reading →

BHP cuts 2018 iron ore forecast, cites rail car upload problems – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – April 18, 2018)

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – BHP Billiton Ltd cut its 2018 fiscal year iron ore output guidance on Thursday citing issues in its railroad car unloading system, while also slightly raising its copper output expectations given higher production at the Escondida mine.

The miner cut projections for fiscal 2018 iron ore production by 2 percent to between 272-274 million tonnes of iron ore from 275-280 million tonnes due to “car dumper reliability issues.” A car dumper is a machine that unloads bulk cargoes from rail road cars.

Overall, the outcome of the global miner’s third quarter production was balanced as lower iron ore output and eased guidance should be broadly offset by a slight pick up in third quarter copper production and upgraded guidance, said Sydney-based brokerage Shaw and Partners in a report. Continue Reading →

BHP Billiton to produce nickel sulphate next year, eyeing cobalt on battery boom – by Tom Daly (Reuters U.S. – April 18, 2018)

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – BHP Billiton is expanding its business as a supplier of battery minerals at its nickel refinery in Western Australia, planning to start producing nickel sulphate next year and looking at cobalt output as well, a company executive said.

Cobalt and nickel are both critical ingredients for lithium ion batteries, and are expected to see a boom in demand as global automakers transition into producing electric vehicles.

Most of the world’s cobalt supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has been beset by governance and human rights concerns. After the DRC, Australia has the world’s second-largest mineral reserves. Continue Reading →

BHP strikes potash as Jansen shafts reach 940 metres – by Alex MacPherson (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – April 6, 2018)

One of the world’s largest mining companies has struck potash in Saskatchewan. Five years after committing $2.6 billion to sink a pair of kilometre-deep shafts at its Jansen mine project, BHP confirmed that drilling crews reached potash deposits 924 metres below ground late last month.

While the multibillion-dollar mine has yet to be sanctioned by the Anglo-Australian mining giant’s board, Giles Hellyer, the company’s vice president of potash operations, said reaching potash was a “significant milestone.”

“Shaft sinking is technical and complex,” Hellyer said in an emailed statement. “The ongoing sinking and completion of the shafts over the next couple of years will help us reduce the development risk of this greenfield project and give us access to what we believe is one of the world’s best undeveloped potash resources.” Continue Reading →

Relations Sour at Giant Copper Pit With Automation Looming – by Laura Mllan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – April 9, 2018)

Just as labor tensions ease at BHP Billiton Ltd.’s giant Escondida mine, the copper industry has another iconic mine to worry about.

Relations between the world’s largest copper producer, Codelco, and unions in its Chuquicamata division have reached the lowest point in years as the mine transitions from open pit to an underground model that will use more automation and employ fewer workers.

The five unions representing more than 5,000 workers at Codelco’s oldest open pit are threatening to dial up protests. They say the Chilean state-owned company is transitioning to underground without a prior agreement with unions on retirement plans, contracts and other benefits. Continue Reading →

BHP says to quit global coal lobby group, stick with U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Reuters U.S. – April 4, 2018)

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Global miner BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) (BLT.L) said on Thursday it had made a final decision to leave the World Coal Association (WCA) over differences on climate change but would remain a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

BHP has largely quit mining coal for power plants, but is the world’s largest exporter of coal for steel-making. It said in December it had taken a preliminary decision to withdraw from the WCA, pending a full review.

The miner came under pressure from Australian green groups last year to leave any industry associations with policies that fail to match the company’s support of the 2015 Paris climate accord. Continue Reading →

Iron ore grade war boosts Vale as Evy Hambro exits Fortescue – by Peter Ker(Australian Financial Review – February 28, 2018)

Australian iron ore exporters’ geographic advantage over South American rivals has been largely eroded by China’s growing preference for higher grade iron ore, according to the giant Brazilian miner that stands to benefit most from the trend.

Vale’s claim to now be matching the profit margins on each tonne of iron ore sold to China by the likes of Rio Tinto and BHP comes as Evy Hambro’s BlackRock World Mining Trust confirmed that it had exited Fortescue Metals Group’s share register because of the wider price discounts being applied to Fortescue’s iron ore

The average iron content of Vale’s ore has recently risen to 64.3 per cent with the introduction of the high-grade S11D mine in Brazil’s Carajas region, and the arrival of that mine has coincided with Chinese steel mills paying a premium for higher grade iron ore as they seek to improve environmental efficiency. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-For coal miners, it’s time to exit or get rich – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – February 25, 2018)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Feb 26 – It seems coal miners are adopting one of two disparate strategies, either exit the business in a highly visible way to buff up your climate credentials, or sit tight, keep as quiet as possible and rake in the cash.

An example of the public exit from the business is South32 , the Perth-based miner spun out of BHP Billiton which is in the process of selling out of its thermal coal assets in South Africa.

Mike Fraser, South32’s president and chief operating office for South Africa, told Reuters earlier this month that the company was aiming to sell its coal assets because it “did not believe in the commodity.” It would also be better if the coal mines were majority-owned by black investors, Fraser said. Continue Reading →

BHP CEO Will Meet With Activist Elliott to Discuss Demands – by David Stringer and Rebecca Keenan (Bloomberg News – February 20, 2018)

BHP Billiton Ltd.’s top executive will meet with major critic Elliott Management Corp. this week to discuss demands for a business overhaul that the activist group argues could deliver more than $22 billion in value.

BHP’s first-half results missed analysts’ expectations and the shares fell 4.6 percent, on pace for the biggest daily drop since April. The world’s biggest mining company will also canvass other shareholders on the proposal to reorganize as a single company listed in Australia.

While flagging potential risks and costs associated with the New York-based fund’s demands, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie pledged to discuss the issue further. He said he’ll probably say more after meeting with Elliott. Continue Reading →

Future of BHP and Vale’s Samarco joint venture remains uncertain – by James Thomson (Australian Financial Review – January 4, 2018)

The future of BHP Billiton’s stake in the Samarco iron ore joint venture in Brazil is unlikely to be resolved quickly, as the iron ore giant and its co-owner Vale inch towards a restart of the operation.

Reports out of Brazil on Thursday suggested that Brazilian giant Vale and BHP were holding talks on the future structure of the Samarco venture, which has been shut since a deadly dam failure in November 2015.

A Bloomberg report suggested that one option could see Vale acquire Melbourne-based BHP’s half-share and taking full ownership of Samarco. Continue Reading →

BHP misrepresented climate stance, says lobby group the World Coal Association – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – December 20, 2017)

BHP Billiton has been accused of “posturing” and misrepresenting the climate policies of the World Coal Association (WCA) in a controversial review the company has used to justify quitting the lobby group.

BHP said on Tuesday it was likely to cancel its membership of the WCA as a result of “material differences” between it and the WCA’s stance on energy and climate policy.

In justifying its “preliminary” decision to quit the WCA, BHP singled out comments by WCA chief executive Benjamin Sporton in The Australian Financial Review in September, where he endorsed the Turnbull government’s decision to abandon a clean energy target and urged Australian banks to support high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal-fired power stations. Continue Reading →

BHP says likely to quit global coal lobby group – (Reuters U.S. – December 18, 2017)

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Global miner BHP Billiton said on Tuesday it has taken a preliminary decision to leave the World Coal Association citing disagreement over climate change, and might also withdraw from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over mining industry rules.

BHP has largely quit mining coal for power plants but is the world’s largest exporter of coal for steel-making. It will seek responses from the World Coal Association over policy differences before making a final decision on whether to pull out in March 2018, it said.

The miner came under pressure from Australian green groups earlier this year to leave any industry associations whose policies did not match the company’s support of the Paris climate accord agreed in 2015. Continue Reading →

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 →