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Global coal outlook from BHP Billiton

World Coal,

President of BHP Billiton’s global coal business, Dean Dalla Valle, spoke at CEDA’s Energy and Resources series in Brisbane, Australia, about the global coal outlook.

Sustainable coal export industry

Dalla Valle outlined the importance of productivity and a high-performing culture to ensure a long-term sustainable coal export industry in Australia.

“BHP Billiton’s Coal business includes 20 metallurgical and energy coal operations across five countries. In the 2013 financial year we produced 154 million t on a 100% basis.

“We are the largest coal miner in Queensland and a major contributor to the Queensland economy, directly injecting more than US$ 10 billion into the economy and employing more than 7000 people at our Bowen Basin operations.”

Industry challenges

Regarding industry challenges, he emphasized the importance of reducing costs and maximizing productivity.

“Our business has the equipment, technology, infrastructure and expertise to operate our mines more safely and efficiently than ever before.

“Over the past 18 months we have focused on our cost base throughout our operations. There is still more we need to do as we look for ways to improve the productivity and competitiveness of our mines.”

Demand for metallurgical coal

Dalla Valle explained that the company expected global growth in demand for energy and metallurgical coal over the next few decades, with productivity key to generating acceptable returns.

He added that BHP’s investment in common processes and systems gave the company an advantage to replicate best practice across the group.

Productivity gains

Building on this point, he explained: “For example, I can compare the productivity of a truck and shovel fleet at one of our mines in South Africa against a similar truck and shovel fleet at one of our mines in the Bowen Basin.

“We are also looking to work smarter as we deliver long-term productivity gains. To do this we need high performing teams and to ensure our people have the opportunities to develop their careers through mobility in the industry.”

Workforce culture

Dalla Valle referenced BHP’s new commute workforce at the Daunia Mine as an example of a new operation where a culture is being developed to help deliver productivity gains.

“What is evident when you go to Daunia is that when you bring a diverse, enthusiastic group of new people to our industry and blend them with experienced miners and the right training and supervision, a new culture develops.

“It also helps us increase our diversity as we re-shape our workforce, strive to better reflect the make-up of our society and spread the benefits of mining across Queensland.”

Social and economic contribution

Dalla Valle also reiterated comments made by BHP Billiton’s CEO, Andrew Mackenzie, about the important social and economic contribution coal makes globally.

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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