Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 24 April 2009 – BHP Billiton Limited – the world’s biggest mining company – has revealed that the viability of one of its three southern Africa aluminium operations is at risk, following a sharp decline in demand for value-added products.

The company told Reuters that its Bayside aluminium plant in South Africa had stopped supply contracts with some customers, and was exploring options to restructure the plant.

Company spokeswoman Bronwyn Wilkinson said aluminium sales from Bayside had fallen 50% in the March quarter this year, compared to the first three months of last year, while output was down 46%.

“The smelter has experienced a sharp decline in the domestic demand for its value-added products, resulting in the termination of certain customer supply contracts,” Wilkinson explained. “Consequently the financial viability of the smelter is at risk.”