BHP to expand WA iron ore; QLD coal operations

BHP Billiton has approved $US 7.6 billion to continue the expansion of its Western Australian Pilbara iron ore operations.

The program will increase its output to approximately 220 million tonnes per annum, following first production from its new Jimblebar mine in early 2014.

BHP president iron ore, Ian Ashby explained that “our intent with these projects is to develop port capacity that, with subsequent debottlenecking, will allow us to fill our 240 mtpa allocation in the Port Hedland inner harbour. We have intentionally overbuilt the ore handling facilities at Jimblebar and expect to incrementally grow mine production to ensure that our port and rail systems are operated at full capacity during this debottlenecking program."

Part of the $US 7.6 billion will go towards the development of supporting rail infrastructure for the Jimblebar mine, as well as the construction of additional berths at Port Hedland.

The miner is also investing $US 5 billion into its Queensland coal projects and upgrading port capacity at its Hay Point Coal Terminal.

BHP is ploughing $US 1.6 billion into the development of its Daunia coal mine, which will have the capacity to produce around 4.5 million tonnes of metallurgical coal per annum.

First coal is expected from the site in 2013.

This initial investment will be followed closely by the construction of its Caval Ridge coal mine, according to BHP Billiton metallurgical coal president Hubie van Dalsen.

It is also planning an extension of its existing operations at its Mt Arthur coal mine in the Hunter Valley.

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