Melbourne, Australia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 20 February 2009 – BHP Billion – the world’s biggest mining company – has cut 80 jobs at its Mozal aluminum smelter in Mozambique, following a reduction in output caused by a power shortage in southern Africa.
In an e-mailed response to questions here, the company pointed out that while production had not been cut in response to the downturn in the aluminum market, operations still remained under review.
“The swift and dramatic market downturn has created very challenging market conditions,” said Andrew Mackenzie, chief executive of BHP’s non-ferrous business. “Uncertainty in the short and medium-term outlook is real.”
“Aluminum may underperform other base, or industrial, metals for several years,” Barclays Capital analyst Kevin Norrish said. “Some 15% of global aluminum capacity has been shut down,” he added.
“We will make the necessary adjustments to an operation where there is not a customer for the volume produced, or if the operation is cash negative and set to remain so,” Mackenzie explained. Aluminum for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange has lost 65% in the past seven months.
Bloomberg News reports that the Mozambican smelter posted a profit last year.