Page last updated at 07:25 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Miner BHP to lay off 6,000 staff

BHP Billiton diamond mine in Northwest Territories, Canada.
BHP is cutting jobs and production.

The world's biggest mining group, BHP Billiton, says it plans to cut some 6,000 jobs worldwide to cope with falling demand for its products.

The lay-offs amount to some 6% of its 101,000-strong workforce and follow similar cuts by chief rival Rio Tinto.

It also said it will close its Ravensthorpe nickel mine in Australia due to poor profitability prospects.

The announcement underscores a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of mining companies as the downturn bites.

The price of nickel, used mainly in the production of stainless steel, has dropped as the once-insatiable demand for raw materials, particularly from China, has weakened.

In Australia, 3,400 jobs will be lost, another 2,000 in Chile and 550 at the Pinto Valley copper mine in the US.

In a statement, it also said it would cut production at its Mount Keith nickel mine, also in Australia.


In the statement, BHP Billiton said it would immediately start "the safe ramp down and indefinite suspension of the Ravensthorpe Nickel Operation".

"In addition, the rate of mining at the Mount Keith operation will be reduced in order to preserve its economic viability."

However, the company said it would maintain nickel concentrate output.

"We fully understand the impact that today's announcement has on our employees, contractors and their families," Jimmy Wilson, BHP's stainless steel materials president, said.

"These decisions are never easy but are the consequence of our long held practice of continually reviewing all of our operations to ensure that they are competitive," he added.

The price of nickel has dropped from some $51,000 (36,700) per metric ton in May 2007 to about $11,550 (8,300) per metric ton.

Print Sponsor

Alcan slashes jobs and production
21 Jan 09 |  Business
Rio Tinto shelves mine expansion
12 Jan 09 |  Business
Miner Rio Tinto cuts 14,000 jobs
10 Dec 08 |  Business
BHP Billiton abandons Rio offer
25 Nov 08 |  Business
Watchdog backs giant mining deal
01 Oct 08 |  Business
Strong demand boosts Rio profits
26 Aug 08 |  Business
EU probe into BHP targeting Rio
04 Jul 08 |  Business

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2016 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific