BHP job cuts give coal unit a boost

WITH 700 jobs dumped from its coal operations in Central Queensland, BHP Billiton has told an investor briefing in London that company operations are in "great shape".

Chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie said BHP had a clear strategy and remained focussed (across all of its interests) in generating value through productivity.

He described its Queensland Coal operations as being "a standout performer" with a big reduction in operating costs to $99 per tonne.

"At Queensland Coal a 24% reduction in operating costs has re-established the business as a leader in its industry," Mr Mackenzie said.

"We expect to reduce unit costs by a further 10% to below US$90 (A$102) per tonne in the 2015 financial year as we continue to increase throughput from our installed infrastructure.

"I have highlighted Queensland Coal's record production and outstanding achievement in reducing unit costs, which has re-established this business as a leader in its industry."

Mr Mackenzie did not detail whether the human face of massive job cuts in central Queensland had played a significant role and made no mention of whether more job losses would occur in its pursuit of productivity.

Mike Henry, president of Health Safety and Environment and Marketing, said the company was well-positioned to meet the continued growth in demand for metallurgical coal and praised its management for its efforts to be more productive.

"The outstanding work that the team there has done to become more productive returns us to the low end of the cost curve, securing our competitive advantage in this commodity relative to the emerging basins," he said.

Mr Henry said BHP's Queensland Coal assets had premium hard coking coal and resources that would support production for decades.

Along with its achievement of a broad-based productivity improvement across Queensland Coal, Mr Mackenzie said it had also ramped up the Caval Ridge and Daunia mines.

"All of our existing operations are cash-positive, despite the low price environment...," he said.

Topics:  bhp downturn jobs mining unemployment

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