BHP, Xstrata, Anglo to spend $1.3 billion on Columbian coal mine expansion

Mining giants, BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Anglo American, yesterday approved spending $1.3 billion to expand their Cerrejon joint-venture coal mine in Columbia, the world's biggest open-pit coal mine.

All the three London-listed miners, who own a 33.3-per cent stake each in the mine, will invest $437 million each to expand the mine to increase the output to 40-million tons a year by 2015.  

The expansion would enhance production by eight-million tons a year and increase the miners equal share in production and sales to 13.3-million tons each, from 10.7-million tons each.

''Today's announcement highlights our commitment to invest in growth throughout the cycle and to continue to produce at maximum volumes to take advantage of the strong demand for energy coal,'' said BHP energy coal president Jimmy Wilson.

One of the largest coal deposits in the world, Cerrejón has a resource base of approximately 5 billion tonnes, of which 2.1 billion tonnes are currently at a measured and indicated export quality status.

The expansion of the Cerrejon mine located in La Guajira, Colombia, will include increasing coal production and coal handling capacity and coal handling and ship-loading capacity at its 100-per cent owned and operated port, Puerto Bolivar, including the construction of an additional loading berth.