Melbourne, Australia — 08 June 2012 – BHP Billiton Limited “’ the world’s biggest mining company “’ is considering the sale of its 33.3% stake in the Guinea Alumina joint venture as commodity prices decline and the company trims spending.
“The JV partners continue to search for a solution that would make this project executable,” BHP said in an e-mailed statement. “Solutions include finding new owners, including for BHP Billiton’s share in the JV.”
The “Sydney Morning Herald” reports that the announcement comes after BHP in January halted bauxite exploration at its Boffa-Santou-Houda site in Guinea, the world’s biggest exporter of the ore that’s used to make aluminium. It also shelved plans to build an aluminium smelter in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mining companies are slowing spending and shedding smaller assets as rising costs for developing mines, plants, rail and ports curb potential returns. BHP has “been quite clear that each individual project has to justify its existence and if it doesn’t then they are going to get rid of it,” Liberum Capital Limited analyst Richard Knights said last month.
Guinea Alumina is equally owned by BHP, Dubai Aluminium Company and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Company. Aluminium prices have dropped 16% from a 1 March high this year as oversupply weighs on prices.
BHP won’t meet its five-year $US80 billion spending target made last year for building new mines and expanding operations as it combats higher costs and lower prices, chairman Jac Nasser said last month.
The company is making a “longstanding rationalisation of our portfolio in pursuit of a simpler organisation and more scalable organisation, more highly focused on the big assets in our portfolio and the expandable assets,” CEO Marius Kloppers said in February, according to a transcript.
BHP is also selling its Richards Bay minerals business in South Africa and its diamond unit, and may dispose of its aluminium and manganese businesses as well as some coal assets in Africa, Australia and America, Bank of America Corporation said in a recent report.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald. For more information, click here.