Marius Kloppers.
Marius Kloppers. Torsten Blackwood

BHP Billiton CEO rules out new mining ventures for Qld

BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers warned there was little chance of new mining projects in Queensland from his company because it was "extraordinarily difficult" to justify spending the money needed.

BHP has major stakes in Central Queensland through joint ventures with Mitsubishi.

These include eight mines plus Hay Point Coal Terminal.

He added that any mine not making a profit would be shut down, naming now-mothballed Norwich Park and the soon to close Gregory Crinum as examples.

Dr Kloppers spoke for about 40 minutes to the Brisbane Mining Club at a sell-out event at Brisbane Exhibition Centre.

He said it was "greenfield" or absolutely new projects which were near-impossible for BHP justify.
"I'm talking about major things," Dr Kloppers said.

"I'm not talking about what we're going to do with the Caval Ridge project, which is to add a new 2 million tonnes (of coal per year) then maybe squeeze out another two.

"Those sort of things you can make pay.

"What is extraordinarily difficult is to open up brand new greenfield mines, ports, rail and so on.

"It is particularly unfortunate, that these costs are increasing at a time when industry profitability is declining."

Dr Kloppers explained that expansion of Peak Downs had already been delayed and Caval Ridge's expansion would still rely on "market conditions".

In a speech that focused heavily on the combined costs of high wages, falling world commodity prices and various government royalties, Dr Kloppers said BHP maintained a healthy outlook because in the cyclical world of resources, it had planned for times to slow eventually.

But that planning would not allow for spending on new Queensland projects unless levels of government - both state and federal - could help bring costs down.

Dr Kloppers' cost concerns were mirrored in BHP Billiton's quarterly production report released on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney released an environmental study to the public covering a $4.2 billion open-cut and underground coal mine from AMCI and Alpha Coal to be built 170km west of Emerald with the potential to create 2900 construction jobs.