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BHP Billiton to support Giant Panda research

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BHP Billiton has announced its Growing Together Giant Panda conservation initiative in partnership with the China Conservation and Research Centre at a ceremony at the Centre's Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province in south-west China.

The three-year rolling partnership valued at $30,000 a year will contribute directly to Giant Panda conservation and research efforts.

Both BHP Billiton and the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda will embark upon initiatives to assist in the habitat preservation and enhancement, breeding, caring for pandas both in the wild and in captivity, as well as implementing education programs to increase public awareness of the panda as a highly endangered species.

"As one of the largest global resource companies, BHP Billiton has maintained a long and active interest in China. The contribution by BHP Billiton to the Growing Together Partnership is not only a positive contribution to the science and education undertakings in China, but also a perfect opportunity for the Centre, in partnership with BHP Billiton, to advance our understanding of the Giant Panda," Professor Zhang HeMin, director of the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda, said.

The primary focus of the partnership for BHP Billiton will be the rare opportunity to provide life-long care for twin male and female panda cubs, which were born at the Wolong Nature Reserve earlier this year, as well as the creation of education programs around the growth and development of the twin pandas, for local schools in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

As a result of the partnership, primary school children from the communities of Western Australia's Newman and Port Hedland will have the opportunity to interact with Wolong Primary School in China as part of a sister-school initiative.

Together, the students will share information about the Giant Panda and its habitat facilitated through specially designed curriculum units. The students will also share cultures by exchanging stories about their schools, customs, local environments and countries.

The project is an initiative of BHP Billiton's Western Australia Iron Ore operations.

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