BHP Billiton approves $1.93-billion for iron ore expansion at Western Australia

With the global economy on the way to recovery, the world's biggest diversified miner, BHP Billiton today approved a $1.93-billion capital expenditure to speed up the growth of its Western Australia iron ore business.

Of the $1.93-billion of capital expenditure, BHP will foot a $1.73 billion, while its Japanese partners, Itochu Minerals & Energy, Mitsui-Itochu Iron and Mitsui Iron Ore Corp, which hold minority stakes in BHP's iron ore mines, will share the remaining $200 million.

''The funding will allow early procurement of long lead time items and detailed engineering to continue the expansion of the inner harbour at Port Hedland, continue with the rail track duplication works and expand the Jimblebar mining operation, said the Melbourne-based miner's president, Iron Ore, Ian Ashby today.

Ian Ashby, president of BHP's iron ore business, said, "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 the company's Rapid Growth Project 6 (RGP6) is completed, the miner expects to more than tripled installed capacity at its Western Australia Iron Ore operations to 240 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) during calendar year 2013.

Currently, BHP is the world's third biggest iron producer behind Vale of Brazil and fellow Anglo Australian miner Rio Tinto, though in terms of its entire mining activites, it is by far the world's largest mining company.