BHP-Billiton pulling out of Suriname

PARAMARIBO, Suriname, October 30, 2008 – The world’s largest mining company, BHP-Billiton, has cancelled the US$727 million development of a bauxite mine in Suriname and says it will pull out of the country altogether within the next two years.

The company says it will stop its operations in the country by 2010, by which time deposits at its three mines in the country will be depleted. The Australian company currently has a 45 per cent stake in an alumina refinery joint venture with Alcoa, Australia’s leading aluminium producer.

“Our decision to discontinue the Bakhuis project [is] based on the risk/reward balance of that particular project,” said a BHP spokesman, Peter Ogden. “We remain fully committed to our investment pipeline.”

Earlier this month, the Suriname Government suspended discussions with BHP over the development of the bauxite mine, in the west of the country. This after the government said it could not agree to the conditions the company had requested since it would result in a cheap sale of the resources.

BHP-Billiton was created in 2001 by the merger of Australia’s Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) and the United Kingdom’s Billiton.