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BHP Billiton today announced US$267 million (BHP Billiton share) of pre-approval capital expenditure to accelerate the development of the Caval Ridge and Hay Point Coal Terminal Stage 3 Expansion (HPX3) projects. The funds will be used for feasibility studies, the procurement of long-lead time items and initial project activities.

The Caval Ridge project is expected to produce an estimated 5.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of high quality coking coal from the Caval Ridge mine and an incremental 2.5 mtpa from the Peak Downs mine (100 per cent basis). The HPX3 project is expected to increase the annual capacity of the Hay Point Coal Terminal from 44 mtpa to 55 mtpa (100 per cent basis). Subject to regulatory approvals, final approval for the development of these projects is expected when the feasibility studies are completed, estimated to be the third quarter of 2011.

The Caval Ridge mine, Peak Downs mine and Hay Point Coal Terminal are operations of the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), a 50:50 joint venture between BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd.

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