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BHP spins of NSW and South African coal assets

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World Coal,

BHP Billiton’s coal assets in South Africa and the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia, will be included in a demerger of non-core assets announced with the company’s full year results. But the company will retain its high-quality Queensland metallurgical coal mines and its thermal coal assets in the Hunter Valley as part of its commitment to coal as one of four “pillars” of its business.

Other assets to be hived off into the as-yet-unnamed spin-off will include the Cerro Matoso nickel mine in Colombia, aluminium assets in South Africa, aluminium, bauxite and manganese assets in Australia and the Cannington lead-silver mine in Queensland.

The inclusion of the Illawarra assets has been the subject of much speculation but its inclusion, along with the Cannington mine, will provide the new company with two “hero assets” expected to help drum up investor interest, reported WAtoday.

Meanwhile the exclusion of BHP’s troubled Nickel West assets – which has been on sale for months – will also boost the new company. BHP will continue to look for a buyer for its Australian nickel business, CEO, Andrew Mackenzie, told reporters, saying there were a number of potential buyers or partners for the asset.

"BHP Billiton is becoming a simpler, more productive company and the demerger we have announced today is an important step forward,'' Mackenzie continued.

The new company will be headquartered in Perth and be listed on the Australian stock exchange with a secondary listing in South Africa. Graham Kerr, BHP’s current chief financial officer, will become the new company’s CEO with David Crawford – the longest serving BHP director – as chairman.

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