BHP Billiton

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

BHP Billiton (BHPB) is an international mining firm which describes itself as "the world's largest diversified resources company." It mainly deals in minerals and petrochemicals, but also is one of the world's leading exporters of "thermal coal," i.e. coal used for power generation.[1] In 2006, BHPB's profits exceeded US$10 billion.

BHPB is a dual listed company, made up of BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc - the dual company status resulting from a 2001 merger. The global headquarters are in Melbourne, Australia. [2]

BHPB has been accused of environmental vandalism, displacing indigenous people, and unfair union controls. [3]

Climate Change

In June 2007, in response to concerns about global warming, BHPB announced that it would commit US$300 million "over the next five years to support the development of low emissions technology and to encourage emissions abatement," reported Reuters. BHPB "also set fresh targets to reduce the energy and greenhouse intensity of its projects by 2012. ... BHP was on track to beat a target of a five percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production by end-June 2007, and had set a target of a further 6 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 2012." [4] (See also BHP Billiton's coal interests).

Citizen Protests Against BHP Billiton's Coal Expansion

July 21, 2008: Australian citizens blockade farm to stop coal exploration

On July 21, 2008, nearly 200 concerned residents and landowners in northern New South Wales blockaded a farmer's driveway to prevent a BHP-Billiton drilling rig onto the property to explore for coal deposits. Local residents are asking for an independent study into the effects the exploration and coal mining will have on local underground water reserves.[5] A court had previously issued an injunction against the landowner when he drove a grader across his driveway to prevent the exploratory team from entering his property.[6]

August 11, 2008: Activists glue themselves to coal giant's headquarters

On August 11, 2008, nine activists glued themselves to the revolving door and windows at BHP Billiton's headquarters in central London. The protesters also scattered coal across the floor of the lobby. BHP is one of the world's largest coal companies. According to one activist the protest was to highlight that the "expansion of the coal industry is unacceptable in the face of impending climate chaos." The protest ended peacefully after 90 minutes and there were no arrests.[7]

August 5, 2009: Protesters block Hay Pt. coal terminal in Australia

Greenpeace activists used the group's largest ship to block BHP Billiton's coal terminal on the northwest coast of Australia. The action halted loading and shipments for the world’s largest mining company for more than 36 hours.[8]

Subsidiaries

BHP Billiton is the 100% owner of uranium miner Western Mining Corporation, which owns the Olympic Dam (or Roxby Downs) uranium mine in South Australia. [9]

Coal terminals

Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG), partly owned by BHP Billiton Ltd., completed financing for a A$900 million ($824 million) expansion of a coal terminal at the port in Australia’s New South Wales state. Export capacity will rise from 30 million to 53 million metric tons a year. Construction will take place over the next two years. The terminal has planning approval to handle 66 million tons of coal annually. NCIG, which includes Peabody Energy, won a 2005 tender to build a third terminal at the world’s biggest export harbor for power-station coal, beating a bid by Port Waratah Coal Services Ltd., owner of the existing two terminals. The expansion will increase export capacity at Newcastle to more than 180 million tons of coal a year by 2013.[10]

Uranium Miner

BHP Billiton is one of the world’s top five producers of uranium, but also the world’s second largest exporter of coal. [11]

Its Olympic Dam mine has, so far, produced 60 million tonnes of radioactive tailings, and the waste is growing at 10 million tonnes per year, but there are no plans for the long-term management of these toxic tailings. The mine’s daily extraction of over 30 million litres of water from the Great Artesian Basin has adversely impacted on the fragile ecology, and the mine is a large consumer of electricity and a major contributor to South Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. [12]

The Olympic Dam mine enjoys a range of exemptions from the South Australian Environmental Protection Act, the Water Resources Act, the Aboriginal Heritage Act and the Freedom of Information Act. A 2003 Senate inquiry into the regulation of uranium mining in Australia reported “a pattern of under-performance and noncompliance”. It identified many gaps in knowledge and found an absence of reliable data on which to measure the extent of contamination or its impact on the environment, and it concluded that changes were necessary “in order to protect the environment and its inhabitants from serious or irreversible damage”. The committee concluded “that short-term considerations have been given greater weight than the potential for permanent damage to the environment”. [13]

Judge Suspends Navajo Mine Permit

In early November 2010 a federal judge voided a permit for the expansion of the operating permit for the Navajo mine located on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. It was one of two mines at the location that has sought expansion permits. The judge called for a more thorough review of the project’s impact on the environment and on cultural sites.

“This whole area has been utilized for thousands of years by indigenous people,” said Mr. Bartlett, a lawyer at the nonprofit Energy Minerals Law Center in Durango, Colorado. “This is where people have buried kin.”

The decision “sends a very clear signal that it’s time for this agency to do its job,” Mr. Bartlett added.

BHP Billiton owns the mine, which feeds the Four Corners Generating Station, also on Navajo land in New Mexico.[14]

Lawsuit

In response to the judge's suspension of the mine's expansion, BHP Billiton did an analysis of a 714-acre area the company seeks to develop.[15]

Saying the new analysis was not sufficient under the National Environmental Policy Act, a coalition of environmental groups filed suit against BHP Billiton's plans to expand mining activities at Navajo Mine in May 2012.[15]

Fire Breaks out at San Juan Mine

On September 10, 2011 an underground fire broke out in the San Juan Mine, at which point the mine was evacuated by miners. BHP Billiton believed they had was attempting to confirm that an underground coal fire that began three days earlier at San Juan Mine was extinguished.

"We are progressing in a methodical and cautious manner," Norman Benally, BHP Billiton New Mexico Coal spokesman, said in a prepared statement. Nobody was injured during the fire.[16]

Directors

Accessed March 2008: [17]

PR Advisers

Former personnel

  • Chip Goodyear, Chief Executive Officer
  • Tom Harley, President Corporate Development
  • Ian Wood, Vice-President of Sustainable Development and Community Relations

Contact details

Australia:
BHP Billiton Limited
BHP Billiton Centre
180 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000
Phone: (61) 1300 55 47 57
Fax: (61 3) 9609 3015
Web: http://www.bhpbilliton.com

United Kingdom:
BHP Billiton Plc
Neathouse Place
Victoria
London SW1V 1BH
Phone: (44 20) 7802 4000
Fax: (44 20) 7802 4111

Resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. "Energy Coal," BHP Billiton website, accessed 3/08
  2. Our Structure, BHP Billiton, accessed December 2007.
  3. BHP Billiton Business & Human Rights Resource Centre website, accessed December 2007.
  4. BHP Billiton to take more action on climate change, Planet Ark, June 19, 2007.
  5. People Power vs. Government Greed, Caroona Coal Action Group website, accessed 7/22/2008
  6. Bring it on: Caroona says 'no' to the big Australian, Northern Daily Leader, 7/22/2008
  7. Coal protest team glued to doors BBC News, August 11, 2008
  8. "BHP Coal Berth Blocked by Greenpeace Ship as Protest Continues," Bloomberg, August 6, 2009.
  9. Olympic Dam, BHP Billiton website, accessed December 2007.
  10. Ben Sharples, "Newcastle Coal Group Completes Financing for $824 Million Port Expansion" Bloomberg, August 9, 2010.
  11. Our Business, BHP Billiton website accessed December 2007.
  12. Dr Jim Green, Nuclear Power: No Solution to Climate Change Friends of the Earth (Australia), the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, the Public Health Association of Australia and the Climate Action Network of Australia, September 2005, See page 7.
  13. Dr Jim Green, Nuclear Power: No Solution to Climate Change Friends of the Earth (Australia), the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, the Public Health Association of Australia and the Climate Action Network of Australia, September 2005, See page 7.
  14. "Judge Suspends Navajo Mining Permit" Mireya Navarro, New York Times, November 1, 2010.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Chuck Slothower, "BHP Billiton sued over Navajo Mine expansion plan," daily-times.com, May 16, 2012.
  16. "San Juan Mine fire may be extinguished" Chuck Slothowever, Daily Times, September 13, 2011.
  17. Directors, BHP Billiton, accessed March 7, 2008.
  18. Group Management Committee, BHP Billiton, accessed December 2007.
  19. Our Board, BHP Billiton, accessed December 2007.

External articles

External resources