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BHP Billiton will offer support to ten Commonwealth countries as part of a sponsorship program announced today by the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games organising committee.

BHP Billiton is also inviting a number of national Commonwealth Games Associations to nominate a new or ongoing development project in a sport of its choice to be considered for specific support under the sponsorship.

The company will provide Partner level support to the 2006 Melbourne Games organisation and, as part of a Federal Government support program, will facilitate travel and associated costs for athletes and officials from nominated Commonwealth countries.

BHP Billiton will also provide the silver for the Commonwealth Games’ silver medals.

BHP Billiton Chief Executive Officer Chip Goodyear said the sponsorship program was an opportunity to assist a number of Commonwealth countries in a practical way that would leave lasting benefits.

"Many of the Commonwealth countries require assistance to fully participate in major global sporting events such as the Games and we are glad to be able to provide some support.

“This is a logical and tangible way to implement our Charter values by interacting with and supporting some of the communities in which we operate.  We are pleased to be working with the Commonwealth Games Federation on the international sponsorships, and look forward to hosting representatives of these communities during the Games in Melbourne,” he said.

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