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Hay Point coal terminal expansion approved

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BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) CEO John Smith has announced the approval of Phase 2 of BMA's expansion program at its Hay Point coal terminal, which will lift capacity by four million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 44Mtpa, and the commencement of a detailed assessment of Phase 3 and Phase 4 expansions.

Approval of these further phases would increase capacity to an estimated 55 - 57Mtpa, and in support of this, a process to obtain environmental approvals for Phases 3 and 4 is already underway.

The Phase 2 works approved will bring investment under the expansion program at the port to more than $230 million.

The latest expansion plans involve the replacement of a stacker machine with a new high capacity stacker reclaimer system, which will increase the capacity and flexibility of the system.

This project builds on a growth strategy announced last year to boost production capacity at the Central Queensland mines by seven million tonnes to 59 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) by the second half of 2006.

This includes a significant increase in throughput capacity at Hay Point from 34 to 40 Mtpa by the second half of 2006. The further Phase 2 expansion from 40 to 44 Mtpa will be operational in the first quarter of 2007.

John Smith said BMA's Hay Point coal terminal was a key component in plans announced by BHP Billiton to increase company-wide metallurgical coal production capacity to around 100 million tonnes by 2010, including proposed production from BMA managed Queensland operations of around 80 million tonnes a year.

"Our port expansion activities will maximise coal recovery through improved operational flexibility for coal stockpiling, retrieval and shipping, with flow-on benefits for our customers," said Mr Smith.

"BMA is pursuing a fully integrated program to expand production and port capacity in line with increasing market demand, particularly from China, India and Brazil, amongst others."

Last week, the one billionth tonne of BMA coal was loaded onto a bulk carrier bound for India, a rapidly growing market.

The billion tonne achievement comes after 38 years of coal mining and marketing in the Central Queensland region by BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) and its predecessors. It is the only coal company in Australia, and possibly the world, that is able to claim this record.

Over the period, the contribution of one billion tonnes of high quality coking coal to the global steelmaking process would have resulted in the production of sufficient steel to construct 28,400 Sydney Harbour Bridges which, end to end, would reach from Brisbane to Rome and back.

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