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BHP Billiton Limited & Plc
Industry Metals and 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 Group & BHP Billiton Limited)
London, United Kingdom
(BHP Billiton Plc)
Area served
Key people
Andrew Mackenzie (CEO)
Jaques Nasser (Chairman)
Michael Barber (P&L)
Daoud Abibou (HR)
Products Iron ore, coal, petroleum, copper, natural gas, nickel & uranium
Revenue Decrease A$61.2 billion (2015)
Operating income
Decrease US$8.67 billion (2015)
Decrease US$1.91 billion (2015)
Total assets Decrease US$124.6 billion (2015)
Total equity Decrease US$64.76 billion (2015)
Number of employees
29,670 (2015)

BHP Billiton is an Anglo-Australian multinational mining, metals and petroleum company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. It is the world's largest mining company measured by 2015 market values and Australia's fourth largest company (by revenue), formerly the largest.

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

BHP Billiton global headquarters & Australian registered (corporate) office is located at 171 Collins St, Melbourne CBD, Australia.



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.

Two months later, the company acquired the mineral rights to the tin-rich Billiton (Belitung) and Bangka Islands in the Netherlands Indies archipelago, off the eastern coast of Sumatra.

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 accelerated this growth. The tin and lead smelter in Arnhem, the Netherlands, was shut down in the 1990s. Billiton owned a tin smelting and refining plant in Phuket, Thailand called Thaisarco (shorted from-Thailand smelting and refining company limited), which still exists today.

In 1994, South Africa's Gencor Ltd. acquired the mining division of Billiton excluding the downstream metal division. Billiton was divested from Gencor in 1997.

In 1997, Billiton Plc became a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

Billiton logo
The former logo of Billiton

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.

In 2015, BHP Billiton spun off a number of its subsidiaries in South Africa and Southern Africa to form a new company known as South32. South32 is invested in manganese production and coal mining activities in South Africa, Brazil, Australia and the Far East.

In August 2016, the company recorded its worst annual loss in history, $6.4 billion dollars.

Towards the end of 2016 BHP indicated it would be expanding its petroleum business with new investments in the sector.

Broken Hill Proprietary Company

BHP Logo (vector)
The former logo of Broken Hill Proprietary Company

The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, BHP Co. Ltd., BHP, also known by the nickname "the Big Australian", was incorporated in 1885, operating the silver and lead mine at Broken Hill in western New South Wales, Australia. The Broken Hill group floated on 10 August 1885. 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.

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.

The geographic Broken Hill, for which the town was named, was discovered and named by Charles Sturt, and created much interest among prospectors, but nothing of note was discovered until Charles Rasp, boundary rider for the encompassing Mount Gipps Station, pegged out a 40-acre claim with contractors David James and James Poole, then with half-a-dozen backers (the Syndicate of Seven) including station manager George McCulloch (a young cousin of Victorian Premier Sir James McCulloch) formed the Broken Hill Company to stake out the whole Hill. In the ensuing months of fruitless search and with costs mounting, several of the original seven parted with their shares, and at the eve of the Company's great success there were nine shareholders, including Rasp, McCulloch, William Jamieson (who bought up shares from several of the founders), Philip Charley, David James, James Poole, Bowes Kelly and W. R. Wilson.

John Darling, Jr. became a director of the company in 1892 and was chairman of directors from 1907 to 1914.

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'. 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.

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

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. BHP had better success with the giant Escondida copper mine in Chile (57.5 percent owned) and the EKATI Diamond Mine in northern Canada. which it divested in 2013 to Dominion Diamond Corporation (formerly Harry Winston Diamond Corporation).

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. The 'long products' side of the steel business was spun off to form OneSteel in 2000.

2001 to 2011

BHPB Iron Ore 4303 + 4346 (2)
Diesel locomotives in BHP Billiton Iron Ore "bubble" livery, at the company's Nelson Point Yard, Port Hedland, Western Australia.

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

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 percent acceptance on 17 June 2005, and 100 percent ownership was announced on 2 August 2005, achieved through compulsory acquisition of the last 10 percent of the shares.

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; The bid was withdrawn on 25 November 2008 due to a global recession.

On 14 May 2008, BHP Billiton shares rose to a record high of A$48.90 after speculation that Chinese mining firm Chinalco was considering purchasing a large stake. BHP Billiton representatives had no comment.

On 25 November 2008, Billiton announced that it would drop its A$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.

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. 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.

On 9 December 2009, BHP Billiton 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.

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

In August 2010, BHP Billiton made a hostile takeover bid worth US$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. 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.

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

2011 to present

On 22 February 2011 BHP announced that it paid $4.75 billion in cash 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.

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 in an offer of $US38.75 per share.

In August 2012, BHP Billiton announced that it was shelving its US$20 billion (£12 billion) Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine expansion project in South Australia, as a result of falling commodity prices and slowing global economic growth. The company simultaneously announced a freeze on approving any major new expansion projects.

Days after announcing the Olympic Dam pull-out, BHP announced that it was selling its Yeelirrie Uranium Project to Canadian Cameco for a fee of around $430 million. The sale was part of a broader move to step away from resource expansion in Australia.

On August 19, 2014, BHP Billiton announced it would create an independent global metals and mining company based on a selection of its aluminium, coal, manganese, nickel and silver assets. The newly formed entity, named South32, was subsequently demerged with listings on the Australian Securities Exchange the JSE and the London Stock Exchange.

BHP Billiton agreed to pay a fine of $25 million to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in 2015 in connection with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act related to its "hospitality program" at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. BHP Billiton invited 176 government and state-owned enterprise officials to attend the Games on an all-expenses-paid package. While BHP Billiton claimed to have compliance processes in place to avoid conflicts of interest, the SEC found that BHP Billiton had invited officials from at least four countries where BHP Billiton had interests in influencing the officials' decisions (Congo, Guinea, Philippines and Burundi).

In 2017, BHP Billiton announced a $2.2billion investment in the new BP platform in the Gulf of Mexico. During the same year, as part of their plan to increase productivity at the Escondida mine in Chile, which is the world's biggest copper mine, BHP Billiton attempted to get workers to accept a 4-year pay freeze, a 66% reduction in the end-of-conflict bonus offering, and increased shift flexibility. This resulted in a major workers' strike and forced the company to declare ‘force majeure’ on two shipments, which drove copper prices up by 4%.



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

The company has four primary operational units, with an optional fifth operational unit, referred to as Businesses:

At the end of fiscal year 2015, BHP Billiton, produced more than 256 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe), 1.7 million tonnes (Mt) of copper, 233 Mt of iron ore, 43 Mt of metallurgical coal and 41 Mt of energy coal.

In addition it has subsidiary logistics companies BHP Transport and Logistics Pty Ltd (incorporating the former BHP Shipping) and BHPB Freight Pty Ltd.

Mines and facilities

  • Algeria
    • Ohanet gas field
    • ROD gas field
RC drill rig
Drill rig at Area C mine, near Newman, Western Australia.
Mount Whaleback mine
Process facility at Mount Whaleback mine, Western Australia.
False colour satellite image of Escondida mine, Chile, courtesy of NASA.
    • Escondida
    • Cerro Colorado
    • Spence
  • Colombia
    • Cerrejón coal mine in Guajira department (33.3 percent owned)
  • Mexico
    • Trion
  • Peru
    • Antamina
  • Trinidad & Tobago
    • Angostura oil and gas field
  • United States
    • Permian Shale, Texas
    • Eagle Ford Shale, Texas
    • Haynesville Shale, Louisiana
    • Fayetteville Shale, Arkansas, shale natural gas fields, including the associated midstream pipeline system
    • Gulf of Mexico, oil and gas field (Shenzi & Neptune fields)
    • Resolution Copper, near Superior, Arizona


  • Papua New Guinea (until 2002)
    • Ok Tedi Mine, copper, cause of a large-scale ecological disaster in the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers.
  • United Kingdom
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 10 km (6.2 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." 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."

Environmental responsibility

Bento Rodrigues, Mariana, Minas Gerais (22828956680)
A village flooded in the Bento Rodrigues dam disaster (2015). The dam was a property of Samarco, a joint venture between Vale and BHP Billiton.

BHP Billiton is listed as one of the 90 companies extracting and marketing fossil fuels that are responsible for two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the industrial age. Its cumulative emissions until 2010 have been estimated at 7,606 MtCO2e, representing 0.52% of global industrial emissions between 1751-2010, and ranking it the 19th largest corporate polluter. According to BHP Billiton management 10% of these emissions are from direct operations, while 90% are from products sold by the company.

Although BHP Billiton has been voluntarily reporting its direct GHG emissions since 1996, it has been criticised in 2013 for lobbying against carbon pricing in Australia.

On 5 November 2015 a dam holding back waste water from an iron ore mine in Mariana, south-eastern Brazil, owned by BHP Billiton and Vale burst, devastating a nearby town with mudslides, killing at least 17 people, injuring more than 50 and causing enormous environmental damage

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