BHP Billiton turning away from Altia project in Australia

BHP Billiton is turning away from a silver, lead and zinc joint venture project in north Queensland as doubts emerge over its potential.

BHP's minerals division had allied with Breakaway Resources for the Altia project, 70km south-east of Cloncurry.

BHP's decision to withdraw from the joint venture comes only a day following company chairman Jac Nasser saying the resources giant would not spend the $80 billion it had planned for growth projects up until 2015.

In a statement today, Breakaway said BHP's decision came following a commercial and technical review of the drilling at the Altia silver deposit.

"While the drilling has demonstrated that the Altia deposit lies within a broad mineralised system with silver-lead-zinc mineralisation now drilled over 1,200 metres strike length and to a vertical depth of 800 metres, BHP Billiton believes there is limited potential for the discovery of mineable widths of high-grade silver mineralisation at depth that meet their commercial criteria," Breakaway said.

According to Breakaway, the existing inferred mineral resource at Altia remained intact and BHP's withdrawal from the project had presented a major exploration opportunity.
It added, it would now have unrestricted access to three advanced exploration targets within the area under the BHP joint venture.