BHP to invest $7.4 billion in expansion of Australia operations

Mining giant BHP Billiton today said it planned to invest billions of dollars in expansion of its coal and iron ore operations in Australia.

The cash-heavy resource giant said it would pump $7.4 billion into continuing production growth in the company's Western Australia iron ore operations to ratchet up capacity to over 220 million tonnes a year.

Of these, $3.4 billion would go toward development of its Jimblebar mine and rail links, and in the purchase of mining equipment and rolling stock.

Another $2.3 billion has been allocated for improvements to Port Hedland, that include extra berths and shiploaders, a car dumper, rail works as also rolling stock.

The rest of the investment would go toward improvement of port blending facilities and rail yards. BHP would contribute $6.6 billion to the projects while its partners would chip in with the rest.

The Melbourne-based Anglo-Australian mining giant also announced a $5 billion cash injection into three key metallurgical coal projects in Queensland's Bowen Basin, with BHP's share $2.5 billion.