BHP approves Pilbara expansion

BHP has approved nearly US$2 billion for the expansion of its Pilbara iron ore operations.

BHP Billiton has announced the approval for a US$1.93 billion expansion of its Western Australia Iron Ore business.

This capital is part of the miner’s Rapid Growth Project 6 (RGP6), which aims to increase capacity at its Western Australia iron ore projects to approximately 240 million tonnes of ore per annum during 2013.

The funding allows for expansion of the inner harbour at Port Hedland, further rail line works and the expanding of the Jimblebar mining operations.

This expansion of the iron ore assets comes as BHP is still awaiting approval from the European Commission to merge these operations with fellow miner Rio Tinto.

The president of BHP’s Iron ore division, Ian Ashby, stated that “this investment is the continuation of our long-term strategy of adding capacity in our high quality iron ore business to support our confidence in the longer term demand for iron ore globally.

“By the time RGP6 is completed, we will have more than tripled installed capacity at our Western Australia Iron Ore operations since we first invested in our accelerated growth program in 2002.”

Merger partner Rio will also have the option to participate in RGP6 through paying its share of invested capital.

This decision will be made after the joint venture process is completed, which is predicted to be finished by the second half of the year.

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