BHP Billiton has launched a global technology centre in Perth, Western Australia, one of three global innovation centres.
Located within the Australian Resources Research Centre at Technology Park, the Perth Technology Centre (PTC) was officially opened by the Premier of Western Australia, Alan Carpenter, and BHP Billiton CEO, Chip Goodyear.
Forty BHP Billiton technology innovation roles have been relocated from across Australia to the PTC, which is expected to increase staff numbers to more than 100 within the next two to three years.
It represents a significant investment in, and commitment to, the West Australian community by BHP Billiton and recognises the critical role of technology to its operations around the world.
Mr Carpenter said that more than 20 percent of BHP Billiton's total assets were now in Western Australia and the company's further investment in relocating such a large team of experts and technology professionals was a lesson for others.
"Through establishing a global technology centre in Western Australia, BHP Billiton has underscored its long term commitment to the State. We understand that Perth is an attractive destination for talented professionals from around the world and that to continue to be successful we must foster innovation. Attracting and keeping the best people are critical to this."
Mr Carpenter congratulated the company on contributing further to the State through its investment in the Centre and adding weight to the State Government's goal of diversifying its economic base, capturing more value from core industries and encouraging innovation and creativity.
Mr Goodyear said Western Australia was one of the company's most important regions.
"Many of our key growth projects are based in WA. Our businesses are world leaders in resource production or processing and have outstanding potential for future expansion.
"The location of one of our three global technology innovation centres in Perth reflects our commitment to supporting long-term innovation in BHP Billiton, the industry, Western Australia and throughout all our regions.
"Combined, the technology centres in Perth, Johannesburg and Newcastle represent an investment by BHP Billiton of more than A$100 million each year.
"The Perth Technology Centre is now a key part of our global innovation network that includes key activities in Melbourne, Santiago, Beijing and Moscow, as well as partnerships with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Monash University, the Indian Institute of Technology and St Petersburg and Moscow State Universities."
BHP Billiton's significant footprint in Western Australia includes its Carbon Steel Materials, Petroleum, Aluminium and Stainless Steel Materials businesses. It employs more than 12,000 people directly and as contractors throughout the State.
Over the next few years, it expects to generate a significant number of new jobs, including construction jobs. The permanent workforce will stabilise following the construction phases and into production.
Since 2001, BHP Billiton has approved ten projects in Western Australia at a cost of nearly A$6.7 billion. There are also a number of additional projects in the feasibility and pre-feasibility stages of assessment.
Its annual State royalties and taxes were $359.3 million in the 2005 financial year.
"Western Australia is a crucial component of BHP Billiton's business. The Government of Western Australia provides an excellent intellectual property rights and research and development regime and has created a conducive economic and social environment for us and our employees," Mr Goodyear said.