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Further Growth at Western Australia Iron Ore

BHP Billiton today announced approval of US$7.4 billion (BHP Billiton share US$6.6 billion)1 of capital investment to continue production growth in the company's Western Australia Iron Ore operations. It will deliver an integrated operation with capacity in excess of 220 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), on a 100% basis, with first production expected from the new Jimblebar mine in early calendar year 2014.

The investment includes:

  • US$3.4 billion (BHP Billiton share US$3.3 billion) for the development of Jimblebar mine and rail links, and the procurement of mining equipment and rolling stock that will deliver initial capacity of 35 mtpa, with embedded options for expansion to 55 mtpa for incremental capital investment;
  • US$2.3 billion (BHP Billiton share US$1.9 billion) to further develop Port Hedland, including two additional berths and shiploaders, a car dumper, connecting conveyor routes and associated rail works and rolling stock; and
  • US$1.7 billion (BHP Billiton share US$1.4 billion) for port blending facilities and rail yards to enable ore blending, the expansion of resource life and to prepare for the future growth of the business beyond the inner harbour.

BHP Billiton President Iron Ore, Ian Ashby said "Our intent with these projects is to develop port capacity that, with subsequent debottlenecking, will allow us to fill our 240 mtpa allocation in the Port Hedland inner harbour. We have intentionally overbuilt the ore handling facilities at Jimblebar and expect to incrementally grow mine production to ensure that our port and rail systems are operated at full capacity during this debottlenecking program."

1 BHP Billiton's partners in its Pilbara Iron Ore operations are: Itochu Minerals & Energy of Australia Pty Ltd, Mitsui-Itochu Iron Pty Ltd and Mitsui Iron Ore Corporation Pty Ltd. BHP Billiton share of investment takes into account the 100% owned BHP Billiton Iron Ore Jimblebar operation.