BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton
BHP Billiton Limited & Plc
Type Public company
Industry Materials, mining
Founded Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited (BHP) 1885;
Billiton plc 1860;
Merger of BHP & Billiton 2001 (creation of a DLC)
Headquarters Melbourne, Australia
(BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Group)
London, United Kingdom
(BHP Billiton Plc)
Area served Worldwide
Key people Marius Kloppers (CEO)
Jacques Nasser (Chairman)
Products Iron ore, diamonds, coal, manganese, gold, petroleum, aluminium, copper, nickel, uranium & silver
Revenue US$48,193 million (2010)[1]
Operating income US$20,031 million (2010)[1]
Profit US$12,722 million (2010)[1]
Employees 40,757 (2010/11 average)[2]

BHP Billiton is a global mining, oil and gas company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia and with a major management office in London, United Kingdom. It is the world's largest mining company measured by revenue and as of February 2011 was the world's third-largest company measured by market capitalisation.[3][4]

BHP Billiton was created in 2001 through the merger of the Australian Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited (BHP) and the Anglo-Dutch Billiton plc.[5] The result is a dual-listed company. The Australian-registered BHP Billiton Limited, which is the majority partner, has its primary listing on the Australian Securities Exchange and is the largest company in Australia measured by market capitalisation. The UK-registered BHP Billiton Plc has its primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is one of the largest constituents of the FTSE 100 Index.


Broken Hill Proprietary Company

Former Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited corporate logo

The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, BHP Co. Ltd., BHP, also known as "the Big Australian",[6] was incorporated in 1885, operating the silver and lead mine at Broken Hill in western New South Wales, Australia.[7][8] The Broken Hill group floated on 10 August 1885.[9] The first consignment of Broken Hill ore (48 tons, 5 cwt, 3grs) was smelted at the Intercolonial Smelting and Refining Company's works at Spotswood, Melbourne.[9]

The resulting 35,605 ounces of silver raised a lot of interest when exhibited at the City of Melbourne Bank in Collins St. Some sceptics asserted the promoters were merely using silver from somewhere else, to ramp up the shares...Another shareholder, the dominating W.R. Wilson had had to lend [William Jamieson, General Manager] a new suit so he could take the first prospectus, printed at Silverton near Broken Hill on 20 June 1885, to Adelaide to start the float process.[9]

In 1915, the company ventured into steel manufacturing, with its operations based primarily in Newcastle, New South Wales. The decision to move from mining ore at Broken Hill to open a steelworks at Newcastle was due to the technical limitations in recovering value from mining the 'lower-lying sulphide ores'.[10] The discovery of Iron Knob and Iron Monarch near the western shore of the Spencer Gulf in South Australia combined with the development by the BHP metallurgist A. D. Carmichael of a technique for 'separating zinc sulphides from the accompanying earth and rock' led BHP 'to implement the startlingly simple and cheap process for liberating vast amounts of valuable metals out of sulphide ores, including huge heaps of tailings and slimes up to' 40 ft (12 m) high.[11]

The company began petroleum exploration in the 1960s with discoveries in Bass Strait, an activity which became an increasing focus.[12]

BHP began to diversify offshore in a variety of projects. One project was the Ok Tedi copper mine in Papua New Guinea, where the company was successfully sued by the indigenous inhabitants because of the environmental degradation caused by the mine operations.[13] BHP had better success with the giant Escondida copper mine in Chile (57.5% owned) and the Ekati Diamond Mine in northern Canada.[14]

The inefficiencies of what was, by global standards, a small steel operation in Newcastle finally caught up with the company and the Newcastle operations were closed in 1999.[15] The 'long products' side of the steel business was spun off to form OneSteel in 2000.[16]

In 2001, BHP merged with the Billiton mining company to form BHP Billiton, the largest mining company in the world. In 2002, the 'flat products' steel business was spun off to form BHP Steel. In 2003, BHP Steel changed its name to BlueScope Steel.[17]


Billiton was a mining company whose origins stretch back to 29 September 1860, when the articles of association were approved by a meeting of shareholders in the Groot Keizerhof hotel in The Hague, the Netherlands.[18]

Two months later, the company acquired the mineral rights to the tin-rich islands of Banka (Bangka) and Billiton (Belitung) in the Indonesian archipelago, off the eastern coast of Sumatra.[18]

Billiton's initial business forays included tin and lead smelting in the Netherlands, followed in the 1940s by bauxite mining in Indonesia and Suriname. In 1970, Shell acquired Billiton and accelerated the scope of progress of this growth.[18] The tin and lead smelter in Arnhem, the Netherlands, was shut down in the 1990s.

In 1994, South Africa's Gencor Ltd. acquired the mining division of Billiton excluding the downstream metal division.[19] Billiton was divested from Gencor in 1997.[20] Bhp Billiton remains one of the largest companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE, sharecode bil) in South Africa by market capitalisation.

In 1997, Billiton Plc became a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.[18] in the UK.

Former Billiton corporate logo.

Throughout the 1990s and beyond, Billiton Plc experienced considerable growth. Its portfolio included aluminium smelters in South Africa and Mozambique, nickel operations in Australia and Colombia, base metals mines in South America, Canada and South Africa, coal mines in Australia, Colombia and South Africa, as well as interests in operations in Brazil, Suriname, Australia (aluminium) and South Africa (titanium minerals and steel and ferroalloys).

In 2001 Billiton Plc merged with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited (BHP) to form BHP Billiton.[5]

BHP Billiton Mergers and Acquisitions

In March 2005, BHP Billiton announced a US$7.3 billion agreed bid for another mining company, WMC Resources, owners of the Olympic Dam copper, gold and uranium mine in South Australia, nickel operations in Western Australia and Queensland, and a fertiliser plant also in Queensland. The takeover achieved 90% acceptance on 17 June 2005, and 100% ownership was announced on 2 August 2005, achieved through compulsory acquisition of the last 10% of the shares.[21]

On 8 November 2007, BHP Billiton announced it was seeking to purchase rival mining group Rio Tinto Group in an all-share deal. The initial offer of 3.4 shares of BHP Billiton stock for each share of Rio Tinto was rejected by the board of Rio Tinto for "significantly undervaluing" the company. It was unknown at the time whether BHP Billiton would attempt to purchase Rio Tinto through some form of hostile takeover;[22] however, CEO Marius Kloppers met with many of Rio's shareholders following the announcement and reiterated that the offer for Rio was "compelling" and that BHP Billiton is very "patient".[23] A formal hostile bid of 3.4 BHP Billiton shares for each Rio Tinto share was announced on 6 February 2008.[24] The bid was withdrawn on 25 November 2008 due to a global recession.[25]

On 14 May 2008, BHP Billiton shares rose to a record high of AU $48.90 after speculation that Chinese mining firm Chinalco was considering purchasing a large stake. BHP representatives refused to comment.[26]

On 25 November 2008, Billiton announced that it would drop its $66 billion takeover of rival Rio Tinto Group saying that the "risks to shareholder value" would "increase" to "an unacceptable level" due to the global financial crisis.[27]

In January 2010, after BHP Billiton bought Athabasca Potash for $320m, The Economist reported that by 2020, BHP Billiton could produce approximately 15% of the world demand for potash.[28]

In August 2010, BHP Billiton made a hostile takeover bid worth $40 billion for the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. The bid came after BHP's first bid, made on 17 August, was rejected as being undervalued.[29] This acquisition marked a major strategic move by BHP outside hard commodities and commenced the diversification of its business away from resources with high exposure to carbon price risk (coal, petroleum, iron ore). The takeover bid was opposed by the Government of Saskatchewan under Premier Brad Wall. On 3 November, Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement announced the preliminary rejection of the deal under the Investment Canada Act, giving BHP Billiton 30 days to refine their deal before a final decision was made.[30]

On 14 November 2010, the company announced that it was dropping its offer for Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.[31]

In September 2011, BHP announced it's intentions to move to an owner operated mining business in Western Australia. Mining operations for 3 well established Pilbara sites was operated through contractor Leightons HWE. These contracts, plant and support services were purchased for around $700m.

Recent history

On 21 January 2009 the company announced that in response to the global financial crisis the BHP Billiton Ravensthorpe Nickel Project in Western Australia would cease operations, with a resultant discontinuation of shipments of ore from Ravensthorpe to the Yabulu nickel plant in Queensland Australia.[32] Subsequently the Yabulu refinery was sold to Queensland billionaire Mr Clive Palmer. Additionally, the Pinto Valley mine in the United States was closed. In total, 6,000 employees were laid off, including those laid off with the scaling back at some other projects.[33]

On 9 December 2009, BHP sold its Ravensthorpe Nickel Mine, which cost A$2.4 billion to build, to Vancouver-based First Quantum Minerals for US$340 million. First Quantum was one of three bidders for the mine and actually produced the lowest offer. The Canadian company plans to have the mine back in production in mid-2011. Ravensthorpe cost BHP US$3.6 billion in writedowns when it was shut in January 2009 after less than a year of production.[34]

On 22 February 2011 BHP announced that it paying cash $4.75 billion to Chesapeake Energy Corp. for all of the company's Fayetteville shale assets which include 487,000 acres (1,970 km2) of mineral rights leases and 420 miles (680 km) of pipeline located in north central Arkansas in the United States. The wells on the mineral leases are currently producing about 415 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. BHP plans to spend $800 million to $1 billion a year over 10 years to develop the field and triple production.[35]

On 14 July 2011, BHP Billiton announced that it would acquire Petrohawk Energy of the United States for approximately $12.1 billion in cash, considerably expanding its shale natural gas resources.[36]

Corporate affairs

The Australian BHP Billiton Limited and the British BHP Billiton Plc are separately listed with separate shareholder bodies, but they operate as one business with identical boards of directors and a single management structure. The headquarters of BHP Billiton Limited, and the global headquarters of the combined BHP Billiton Group, are located in Melbourne, Australia, although ex-Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett, recently suggested this would change to the Australian mining capital of Perth, Western Australia upon completion of the 44 storey City Square tower currently under construction. BHP Billiton Plc is headquartered in London, United Kingdom.[37] BHP Billiton also has corporate centres in Johannesburg, South Africa and Houston, USA, and offices in Perth, Santiago, Singapore, Shanghai and The Hague.

The company's shares trade on the following exchanges:[38]


After the merger between BHP and Billiton in 2002, Brian Gilbertson of Billiton was appointed CEO. In 2003, after just six months at the helm, he abruptly stepped down, citing irreconcilable differences with the boards.[39]

Upon Gilbertson's resignation, Chip Goodyear was announced as the new CEO. He continued in that role until his retirement on 30 September 2007.

Marius Kloppers was his successor.[40]



BHP Billiton operates a wide variety of mining and processing operations in 25 countries, employing approximately 41,000 people.

The company has ten primary operational units which it refers to as Customer Sector Groups (CSGs):

Mines and facilities

Nickel West

In Western Australia, BHP's nickel operations are combined under the Nickel West Operation, which includes the Mount Keith Nickel Mine, the Leinster Nickel Mine, the Kambalda Nickel Concentrator, the Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter and the Kwinana Nickel Refinery.[41] Production figures published by the company at the end of 2008 are for the whole Nickel West Operations and not broken down to individual mines. In the calendar year 2008 Nickel West produced 85,800 tonnes of nickel. At the time, Nickel West also included the Ravensthorpe Nickel Mine.[42]


The United Nations Environment Programme has noted that BHP’s Ok Tedi mine site’s "uncontrolled discharge of 70 million tonnes of waste rock and mine tailings annually has spread more than 1 0 km (0 mi) down the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers, raising river beds and causing flooding, sediment deposition, forest damage, and a serious decline in the area's biodiversity."[43] The resulting devastation caused by the mining of Ok Tedi has included the loss of fish, a vital food source for the local community; loss of forest and crops due to flooding and; the loss of "areas of deep spiritual value for villagers are now submerged in mine tailings."[44]

Corporate social responsibility

BHP Billiton is a signatory participant of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.[45]


Inclement weather caused a BHP Billiton helicopter to crash in Angola on 16 November 2007, killing the helicopter's five passengers. The dead were: BHP Billiton Angola Chief Operating Officer David Hopgood, Australian; Angola Technical Services Operations Manager Kevin Ayre, British; Wild Dog Helicopters pilot Kottie Breedt, South African; Guy Sommerfield of MMC, British; and Louwrens Prinsloo of Prinsloo Drilling, Namibian. The helicopter went down approximately 80 km / 50 miles from Alto Cuilo exploration facility in north eastern Angola. BHP Billiton responded by suspending operations in the country.[46]

See also

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  1. ^ a b c "BHP Billiton Annual Report 2010". 
  2. ^ "Summary Review 2011". BHP Billiton. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "Another record profit for BHP". ABC News. 22 August 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2007. 
  4. ^ pt. kompas cyber media (17 February 2011). "Bigger than Microsoft". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "BHP Billiton merger confirmed". 19 March 2001. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "Shrinking the Big Australian". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Australian Business Records". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  8. ^ Wendy Lewis, Simon Balderstone and John Bowan (2006). Events That Shaped Australia. New Holland. p. 79. ISBN 9781741104929. 
  9. ^ a b c Jay, Christopher. (1999) A Future More Prosperous: The History of Newcastle Steelworks 1912–1999, The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, Newcastle, p30.
  10. ^ Jay, Christopher. (1999) A Future More Prosperous: The History of Newcastle Steelworks 1912–1999, The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, Newcastle, p34.
  11. ^ Jay, Christopher. (1999) A Future More Prosperous: The History of Newcastle Steelworks 1912–1999, The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, Newcastle, pp42-43.
  12. ^ History of Petroleum Exploration in Victoria[dead link]
  13. ^ "The big, ugly Australian goes to Ok Tedi". 1 March 1996. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  14. ^ "Discovery of Diamonds in North West Territories". 15 October 2004. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  15. ^ "Steel City without the Big Australian". 29 September 1999. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  16. ^ "One Steel". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  17. ^ "BlueScope Steel". BlueScope Steel. 15 July 2002. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  18. ^ a b c d "Billiton History". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  19. ^ "Shell Unit Sells Assets To Gencor". New York Times. 27 July 1994. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  20. ^ "Gencor pops champagne". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  21. ^ "BHP Billiton to mop up minority in WMC after taking over 90 pct". Forbes. 17 June 2005. Retrieved 13 August 2007. 
  22. ^ "BHP makes £120bn Rio bid approach". BBC News Online. 8 November 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2007. 
  23. ^ "BHP won't be drawn on a Rio sweetener". Financial Times. 28 November 2007. Retrieved 28 November 2007. 
  24. ^ Freed, Jamie (6 February 2008). "BHP makes bid for Rio". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 6 February 2008. 
  25. ^ Keenan, Rebecca (25 November 2008). "BHP Withdraws $66 Billion Stock Offer for Rio Tinto". Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  26. ^ "BHP hits record on talk of Chinese buyer". 14 May 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2008. 
  27. ^ "BHP Billiton withdraws $66bn bid for rival miner Rio Tinto". The Daily Telegraph. UK. 25 November 2008. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  28. ^ "Mergers in the fertiliser industry". The Economist. 18 February 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  29. ^ "BHP Billiton launches hostile bid for Potash". BBC. 18 August 2010. 
  30. ^ "''BHP's PotashCorp bid rejected for now.'' CBC News". 3 November 2010. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  31. ^ Dvorak, Phred (15 November 2010). "BHP Abandons Pursuit of Potash Corp.". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  32. ^ "Changes to BHP Billiton's Nickel Business". BHP Billiton. Retrieved 19 December 2010. 
  33. ^ Chambers, Matt. "BHP axes 6000 jobs and cuts projects." The Australian. 22 January 2009.
  34. ^ Canada's First Quantum wins bid to revive Ravensthorpe nickel mine The Australian, published: 10 December 2009, accessed: 10 December 2009
  35. ^ "BHP Billiton Announces Acquisition Of Chesapeake Energy Corporation's Fayetteville USA, Shale Assets" (Press release). BHP Billiton. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  36. ^ "BHP Billiton to Buy Petrohawk for $12.1 Billion" (Press release). Dealbook. 14 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2010. 
  37. ^ "Our Structure". BHP Billiton. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  38. ^ "SEC Form 20-F, BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton plc, for FY 2007". BHP Billiton. 26 September 2007. p. 274. Retrieved 9 April 2008. 
  39. ^ "BHP chief in shock resignation". CNN. 5 January 2003. Retrieved 13 July 2007. 
  40. ^ "BHP Billiton To Appoint Marius Kloppers As New CEO". BHP Billiton. 31 May 2007. Retrieved 13 July 2007. 
  41. ^ Nickel West BHP Billiton website, accessed: 11 December 2009
  42. ^ BHP BILLITON QUARTERLY PRODUCTION REPORT – DECEMBER 2008 Page: 11, published: 21 January 2009, accessed: 11 December 2009
  43. ^ United Nations Environment Programme Accessed on 16/12/07.
  44. ^ "Australian Conservation Foundation, Leaving the scene of the mine". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  45. ^ "The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights - Participants". Secretariat for the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. 
  46. ^ Macdonald-Smith, Angela (18 November 2007). "BHP Suspends Operations in Angola After Fatal Helicopter Crash". Bloomberg. Retrieved 18 November 2007. 

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