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39/08

BHP Billiton today announced approval of the Rapid Growth Project 5 (RGP5) with a total capital investment of US$4.8 billion (BHP Billiton share).  This includes previously approved capital of US$930 million.

RGP5 will increase installed capacity across our Western Australia Iron Ore operations by 50 million tonnes to 205 million tonnes per annum* (100 per cent basis).  RGP5 is expected to deliver first production in the second half of the 2011 calendar year.

The majority of production growth will come from the Yandi and Mining Area C operations.  RGP5 will also deliver significant infrastructure upgrades including additional shipping berths at the Port Hedland inner harbour (Finucane Island), substantial double tracking of the company’s rail system and additional crushing, screening and stockpiling facilities at Yandi.

BHP Billiton Chief Executive of Ferrous and Coal, Marcus Randolph, said that “while there is substantial uncertainty in the short term outlook, this investment decision highlights BHP Billiton’s confidence that the long term outlook remains positive. The expansion also underscores our belief that high-quality West Australian iron ore with close proximity to China and the Asian markets, is an important source of supply.  With our strong balance sheet, we are well positioned to invest in hiqh-quality and low-risk projects such as RGP5”.

BHP Billiton’s partners in the Western Australia 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 attributable share is approximately 85%.

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