BHP Billiton to invest additional $570 mn in Pilbara expansion

BHP Billiton, the world's third-largest iron ore miner today announced that it would invest a further $570 million in its Pilbara iron ore operations in order to meet the demand from China.

The total investment is of $635 million, of which BHP Billiton's partners in its Pilbara iron ore operations Itochu Minerals & Energy of Australia Pty Ltd, Mitsui-Itochu Iron Pty Ltd and Mitsui Iron Ore Corporation Pty Ltd will collectively invest $65 million.

Of BHP Billiton's $570 million investment, the miner will spend $340 million on rail and works at Port Hedland's inner harbour, and $230 million on the 100-per cent owned BHP Billiton Iron Ore Jimblebar operation.

The investment expands on BHP Billiton's earlier commitment of $1.73 billion announced in January 2010 and will facilitate the ongoing development of important port, rail and Jimblebar mine infrastructure.

BHP Billiton's president of its iron ore business Ian Ashby said, "The investment further progresses our conveyor belt of Rapid Growth Projects and ensures the company is well positioned to deliver production growth into a tight and growing market. Our volume maximising strategy remains unchanged as we continue to update our longer term growth plans."

The investment comes as BHP Billiton sold 90,000 tonnes of Newman iron ore fines at $171.50 a tonne, that included cost and freight (C&F), 80,000 tonnes of MAC (Mining Area C) iron ore fines at $166.50 a tonne C&F through tender, which closed yesterday.