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Heavy January And February Rainfall Causes Production Impact At Queensland Coal Operations

Number 08/08

BHP Billiton has today provided a preliminary estimate of the production impact of the recent heavy rainfall experienced across Queensland’s Bowen Basin (Australia).

While these assessments are continuing, it is currently estimated that the two significant rainfall events, on January 18 – 20 and February 9 – 14, will impact FY08 production from the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) owned mines by between 6.5 and 7.5 million tonnes. In addition, the FY08 production impact from the BHP Billiton Mitsui (BMC) owned mines is estimated to be between 0.5 and 1.0 million tonnes. These assessments include any rollover into FY09.

The BHP Billiton share of this production impact is between 3.7 and 4.6 million tonnes after taking into account relevant ownership. BHP Billiton has insurance cover for property damage and business interruption losses, and potential claims are currently being assessed.

BMA CEO John Smith said: "These are initial assessments of the impacts on production due to the inability to safely operate the mines and to maintain access for our people and supplies following the rains.

"We anticipate we will be better informed on the actual extent of the impact as the recovery process proceeds and mines are brought back to full operational capacity. We will provide an update on the impacts if they are materially different from our preliminary assessments once the situation has been fully assessed.

"Our focus remains on ensuring the safety of all employees and contractors at our operations and on swift recovery of operations, including dewatering of the pits. We are working with the EPA to meet their conditions and minimise downstream impacts.

"We are also continuing to work with our customers to minimise disruption to their businesses," he said.

 Background Information

  • The BMA owned mines are a 50/50 alliance between BHP Billiton Ltd and Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd. These operations include Peak Downs, Goonyella Riverside, Broadmeadow, Saraji, Norwich Park, Blackwater and Gregory Crinum.
  • The BMC mines of South Walker Creek and Poitrel are owned 80% by BHP Billiton and 20% by Mitsui and Co. BMA is the operator of the BMC mines.
  • FY08 refers to the Financial Year ending June 30, 2008.

 For further information please contact:

Samantha Evans, Media Relations
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Don Carroll, Investor Relations
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United Kingdom
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Illtud Harri, Media Relations
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United States
Tracey Whitehead, Investor & Media Relations
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South Africa 
Alison Gilbert, Investor Relations
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