Impala not a target
Kloppers has other priorities on his plate
MARIUS KLOPPERS, BHP Billiton CEO, has poured cold water on speculation that the group might bid for Impala Platinum (Implats), which recently boosted its share price 10% in one day’s trading. Kloppers effectively ruled out a move on Implats due to his group’s current bid for Rio Tinto, as well as safety issues.
In reply to questions, Kloppers commented: “We’re kind of busy at present and focused on the Rio Tinto bid as the main event. We have two tasks at hand: to run our base businesses efficiently and do this ( Rio Tinto) transaction.”
Asked specifically about health and safety issues that might affect a potential move into platinum mining, Kloppers says BHP Billiton wants to run businesses that could achieve a zero fatality rate. He added that didn’t prevent BHP Billiton from getting into deep-level mining but it did exclude certain types of mining methods.
He cited the Olympic Dam base metals/uranium mine in South Australia as an example of a deep-level mine that BHP Billiton was prepared to develop. It’s significant that Olympic Dam will be a highly mechanised operation. “In platinum a mix of mining methods is used, some of which will meet our safety requirements and some of which will not.” The most widely used mining method on SA’s platinum mines is conventional stoping, which is labour intensive.
Kloppers didn’t specify it but that’s precisely the mining method BHP Billiton wants to avoid because of the number of workers exposed to safety risks at depth. The bulk of Implats’s mining operations are of that type.
BHP Billiton recently appointed former Implats CEO Keith Rumble as a non-executive director, which got some observers excited. However, analysts point out that before joining Implats, Rumble had worked most of his career at Rio Tinto. They reckon that’s far more significant.
BRENDAN RYAN email@example.com
Caused excitement. Keith Rumble