BHP Billiton 20-F 2006
Documents found in this filing:
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED 30 JUNE 2006
Date of event requiring this shell company report
Securities registered or to be registered
pursuant to section 12(b) of the Act.
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuers classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Yes ¨ No x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow. Item 17 ¨ Item 18 x
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ¨ No x
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer. See
definition of accelerated filer and large accelerated filer in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large accelerated filer x Accelerated filer ¨ Non-accelerated filer ¨
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Form 20-F item cross reference table
Selected financial information
The selected financial information for BHP Billiton reflects the combined operations of both BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc and has been derived from the 2006 financial statements. The selected financial information should be read in conjunction with, and is qualified in its entirety by reference to the 2006 financial statements and notes thereto. For the first time in 2005-06, the BHP Billiton Groups financial statements are prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as adopted by the European Union and, as such, the basis of preparation is different to that of the most recent comparative years annual financial report. The 2004-05 comparatives have been restated accordingly. IFRS differ in certain aspects from US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Details of the principal differences between IFRS and US GAAP are set out in note 39 US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles disclosures in the financial statements. The BHP Billiton Group publishes its consolidated financial statements in US dollars.
One of our jointly controlled entities, Minera Escondida Limitada meets the definition of a significant unconsolidated subsidiary in accordance with Rule 3-09 of Regulation S-X. Accordingly, the financial statements of Minera Escondida Limitada will be filed with the SEC as soon as available, but no later than 31 December 2006.
We believe that, because of the international scope of our operations and the industries in which we are engaged, numerous factors have an effect on our results and operations. The following describes the material risks that could affect the BHP Billiton Group.
Fluctuations in commodity prices may negatively impact our results
The prices we obtain for our oil, gas, minerals and other commodities are determined by, or linked to, prices in world markets, which have historically been subject to substantial variations because of fluctuations in supply and demand. The influence of hedge and other financial investment funds participating in commodity markets has increased in recent years contributing to higher levels of price volatility. We expect that volatility in prices for most of our commodities will continue for the foreseeable future. This volatility creates the risk that our operating results will be materially and adversely affected by unforeseen declines in the prevailing prices of our products.
Our profits may be negatively affected by currency exchange rate fluctuations
Our assets, earnings and cash flows are influenced by a wide variety of currencies due to the geographic diversity of the countries in which we operate. Fluctuations in the exchange rates of those currencies may have a significant impact on our financial results. The US dollar is the currency in which the majority of our sales are denominated. Operating costs are influenced by the currencies of those countries where our mines and processing plants are located and also by those currencies in which the costs of imported equipment and services are determined. The Australian dollar, South African rand, Chilean peso, Brazilian real and US dollar are the most important currencies influencing our operating costs. Given the dominant role of the US currency in our affairs, the US dollar is the currency in which the BHP Billiton Group measures its financial performance. It is also the natural currency for borrowing and holding surplus cash. We do not generally believe that active currency hedging provides long-term benefits to our shareholders. We may consider currency protection measures appropriate in specific commercial circumstances, subject to strict limits established by our Boards. Therefore, in any particular year, currency fluctuations may have a significant impact on our financial results.
Failure to discover new reserves or enhance existing reserves could negatively affect our results and financial condition
Because most of our revenues and profits are related to our oil and gas and minerals operations, our results and financial conditions are directly related to the success of our exploration efforts and our ability to replace existing reserves. A failure in our ability to discover new reserves or enhance existing reserves in sufficient quantities to maintain or grow the current level of our reserves could negatively affect our results, financial condition and prospects.
We may have fewer mineral, oil or gas reserves than our estimates indicate
Our reserves estimations may change substantially if new information subsequently becomes available. Fluctuations in the price of commodities, variation in production costs or different recovery rates may ultimately result in our estimated reserves being revised. If such a revision was to indicate a substantial reduction in proven or probable reserves at one or more of our major projects, it could negatively affect our results, financial condition and prospects.
Health, safety and environmental exposures and related regulations may impact our operations and reputation negatively
The nature of the industries in which we operate means that our activities are highly regulated by health, safety and environmental laws. As regulatory standards and expectations are constantly developing, we may be exposed to increased litigation, compliance costs and unforeseen environmental remediation expenses.
The December 1997 Kyoto Protocol established a set of greenhouse gas emission targets for developed countries that have ratified the Protocol. The European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), which came into effect on 1 January 2005, has had an impact on greenhouse gas and energy intensive businesses based in the EU. Our Petroleum assets in the UK are currently subject to the EU ETS as are our EU based customers. Elsewhere there is existing and emerging regulation, such as the mandatory renewable energy target in Australia (which puts the onus on power producers to ensure that the national grid has 2 per cent renewable energy by the year 2020) that will affect energy prices. From a medium and long-term perspective, we are likely to see changes in the margins of our greenhouse gas intensive assets and energy intensive assets as a result of regulatory impacts in the countries where we operate. These regulatory mechanisms may be either voluntary or legislated and may impact our operations directly or indirectly via our customers. Inconsistency of regulations may also change the attractiveness of the locations of some of our assets. Assessments of the potential impact of future climate change regulation are uncertain given the wide scope of potential regulatory change in the 25 or more countries where we operate.
The European Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) system is anticipated to commence operation in the first half of 2007. REACH will require manufacturers, importers and downstream users of chemical substances, including metals and minerals, to establish that the substances can be used without negatively affecting health or the environment. The draft legislation, which is currently
undergoing review as it proceeds through the European Parliament for potential enactment, contemplates a registration and authorisation process for identified uses of products. The extent to which our operations and customers are affected by these changes will not be clear until the final form of the regulations is determined. These potential compliance costs, litigation expenses, regulatory delays, remediation expenses and operational costs could negatively affect our financial results.
Our operational processes and geographic locations may be subject to operational accidents or natural catastrophes such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis.
We may continue to be exposed to increased operational costs due to the costs and lost workers time associated with the HIV/AIDS infection rate of our southern African workforce.
Because we operate globally, we may be affected by potential avian flu outbreaks in any of the regions in which we operate. The effects of avian flu may manifest themselves directly on employees, offices and operation or indirectly on customers and markets.
Despite our best efforts and best intentions, there remains a risk that health, safety and/or environmental incidents or accidents may occur that may negatively impact our reputation and freedom or licence to operate.
Land tenure disputes may negatively impact our operations
We operate in several countries where ownership of land is uncertain and where disputes may arise in relation to ownership. These disputes cannot always be predicted and hence there is a risk that this may cause disruption to some of our mining projects and prevent our development of new projects.
In Australia, the Native Title Act (1993) provides for the establishment and recognition of native title under certain circumstances. Like land ownership disputes, native title could negatively affect our new or existing projects.
In South Africa, the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (1997) prevents evictions from taking place in the absence of a court order. Occupiers who reside on the owners land with the requisite consent of the owner, have rights to remain in occupation unless they breach their statutory obligations as occupiers. A process exists for long-term occupiers to enjoy life-long tenure. However, the legislation provides for the option of provision of suitable alternative land for occupation. Furthermore, the Restitution of Land Rights Act (1994) permits dispossessed communities to reclaim land, but only where such dispossession occurred after 1913 and as a consequence of a discriminatory practice or law. Both these Acts could negatively affect new or existing projects of the BHP Billiton Group.
Actions by governments in the countries in which we operate could have a negative impact on our business
Our business could be adversely affected by new government regulation such as controls on imports, exports and prices, new forms or rates of taxation and royalties.
In South Africa, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (2002) (MPRDA) came into effect on 1 May 2004. The law provides for the conversion of existing mining rights (so called Old Order Rights) to rights under the new regime (New Order Rights) subject to certain undertakings to be made by the company applying for such conversion. These new rights will also be subject to revised state royalties in the case of certain minerals, but this is only expected to be introduced in 2009. The MPRDA also required the development of a Broad Based Socio Economic Empowerment (BBSEE) Charter, known as the Mining Charter, for the mining industry with the objectives of expanding opportunities, skills, ownership and employment for historically disadvantaged South Africans. The Mining Charter requires that mining companies achieve 15 per cent ownership by historically disadvantaged South Africans of South African mining assets within five years and 26 per cent ownership within 10 years. If we are unable to convert our South African mining rights in accordance with the MPRDA and the Mining Charter, we could lose some of those rights. We also could be adversely affected by regulatory inquiries into our business practices.
Additional risks associated with emerging markets may negatively impact some of our operations
We operate in emerging markets, which may involve additional risks that could have an adverse impact upon the profitability of an operation. These risks could include terrorism, civil unrest, nationalisation, renegotiation or nullification of existing contracts, leases, permits or other agreements, and changes in laws and policy as well as other unforeseeable risks. If one or more of these risks occurs at one of our major projects, it could have a negative effect on our operating results or financial condition.
We may not be able to successfully integrate our acquired businesses
We have grown our business in part through acquisitions. We expect that some of our future growth will stem from acquisitions. There are numerous risks encountered in business combinations and we may not be able to successfully integrate acquired businesses or generate the cost savings and synergies anticipated, which could negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.
We may not recover our investments in exploration and new mining and oil and gas projects
There is a risk that we will not be able to recover the funds we spend identifying new mining and oil and gas properties through our exploration program. Increasing requirements relating to regulatory, environmental and social approvals can potentially result in significant delays in construction and may adversely impact upon the economics of new mining and oil and gas properties, the expansion of existing operations and our results of operations.
Our non-controlled assets may not comply with our standards
Some of our assets are controlled and managed by joint venture partners or by other companies. Management of our non-controlled assets may not comply with the BHP Billiton Groups health, safety, environment and other standards, controls and procedures. Failure to adopt equivalent standards, controls and procedures at these assets could lead to higher costs and reduced production and adversely impact our results and reputation.
Increased reliance upon the Chinese market may negatively impact our results in the event of a slowdown in consumption
The Chinese market has become a significant source of global demand for commodities. China now represents in excess of 41 per cent of global seaborne iron ore demand, 22 per cent of copper, 22 per cent of aluminum and 16 per cent of nickel demand. Chinas demand for these commodities has more than doubled in the last five years, but this demand is expected to moderate as the government pursues measures to reduce economic overheating and to increase capital efficiency.
Whilst this increase represents a significant business opportunity, our exposure to Chinas economic fortunes and economic policies has increased. Sales into China generated US$6.6 billion or 16.8 per cent of revenue, including our share of jointly controlled entities revenue in the year ended 30 June 2006.
In recent times we have seen a synchronised global recovery, resulting in upward movement in commodity prices driven partly by Chinas demand. This synchronised demand has introduced increased volatility in BHP Billitons commodity portfolio. Whilst this synchronised demand has, in recent periods, resulted in higher prices for the commodities we produce, if Chinas economic growth slows, it could result in lower prices for our products and therefore reduce our revenues.
Inflationary pressures and shortages of skilled personnel could negatively impact our operations and expansion plans
The strong commodity cycle and large numbers of projects being developed in the resources industry led to increased demand for skilled personnel, contractors, materials and supplies and increased demands from governments. This has led, and could continue to lead to, increased capital and operating costs and difficulties in developing, acquiring and retaining skilled personnel, which may in turn adversely affect the development of new projects, the expansion of existing operations, the results of those operations and our financial condition and prospects.
Forward looking statements
This Annual Report contains forward looking statements, including statements regarding:
Forward looking statements can be identified by the use of terminology such as intend, aim, project, anticipate, estimate, plan, believes, expects, may, should, will, continue or similar words. These statements discuss future expectations concerning the results of operations or financial condition or provide other forward looking statements.
These forward looking statements are not guarantees or predictions of future performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which are beyond our control and which may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the statements contained in this Annual Report.
For example, our future revenues from our operations, projects or mines described in this Annual Report will be based, in part, upon the market price of the minerals, metals or petroleum produced, which may vary significantly from current levels. These variations, if materially adverse, may affect the timing or the feasibility of the development of a particular project or the expansion of certain facilities or mines. Other factors that may affect the actual construction or production commencement dates, costs or production output and anticipated lives of operations, mines or facilities include our ability to profitably produce and transport the minerals, petroleum and/or metals extracted to applicable markets; the impact of foreign currency exchange rates on the market prices of the minerals, petroleum or metals we produce; activities of government authorities in some of the countries where we are exploring or developing these projects, facilities or mines, including increases in taxes, changes in environmental and other regulations and political uncertainty; and other factors identified in the description of the risk factors above. We cannot assure you that our estimated economically recoverable reserve figures, closure or divestment of such operations or facilities including associated costs, actual production or commencement dates, cost or production output or anticipated lives of the projects, mines and facilities discussed in this Annual Report will not differ materially from the statements contained in this Annual Report. Except as required by applicable regulations or by law, the Group does not undertake any obligation to publicly update or review any forward looking statements, whether as a result of new information or future events.
History and development of BHP Billiton
We are the worlds largest diversified resources group with a combined market capitalisation of approximately US$122.8 billion as of 30 June 2006 and we generated revenue, together with our share of jointly controlled entities revenue and profit attributable to members of BHP Billiton of US$39.1 billion and US$10.5 billion respectively for the year ended 30 June 2006.
Since June 2001, we have operated under a Dual Listed Companies (DLC) structure. Under the DLC structure, the two parent companies, BHP Billiton Limited (formerly BHP Limited, and before that The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited) and BHP Billiton Plc (formerly Billiton Plc) operate as a single economic entity, run by a unified Board and management team. More details of the DLC structure are located under Organisational structure.
BHP Billiton Limited was incorporated in 1885 and is registered in Australia with ABN 49 004 028 077. BHP Billiton Plc was incorporated in 1996 and is registered in England and Wales with registration number 3196209.
The registered office of BHP Billiton Limited is at 180 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia, and its telephone number is +61 3 9609 3333. The registered office of BHP Billiton Plc is Neathouse Place, London SW1V1BH, UK, and its telephone number is +44 20 7802 4000.
We divide our business into seven business units, or Customer Sector Groups (CSGs):
In addition to the seven CSGs, we also have a minerals exploration group, a technology group and a freight, transport and logistics operation. The tables below list the contribution to revenue from each of these CSGs and by geographic market for the years ended 30 June 2006 and 30 June 2005. Further details of the contribution from each of these CSGs to our revenues and profits are outlined in the Operating and financial review and prospects section.
Petroleum Customer Sector Group
Our Petroleum Customer Sector Groups principal activities are oil and natural gas exploration, production and development in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Algeria, Trinidad and Tobago and Pakistan. We group our petroleum assets for reporting purposes into the following regions: Australia/Asia, Americas, and Europe/Africa/Middle East. We produce and market crude oil and condensates, natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas and ethane.
Total production in 2005-06 was 116.0 million barrels of oil equivalent, compared with total production in 2004-05 of 119.0 million barrels of oil equivalent.
In Australia, we produce oil and gas from Bass Strait, the North West Shelf, the Griffin Project, the Minerva gas field and the Moranbah Coal Bed Methane (CBM) gas project with the Bass Strait and North West Shelf being the major fields. In Asia, we produce gas and a small volume of condensate from the Zamzama gas field in Pakistan.
The majority of our Bass Strait crude oil and condensate production is dispatched from the Bass Strait fields to refineries along the east coast of Australia. The majority of the natural gas produced was sold to GASCOR, under a long-term Consumer Price Index (CPI) indexed contract with periodic price reviews, for on-sale to retailers to meet local residential, commercial and industrial requirements. The GASCOR contract is due to expire on 31 December 2009 or upon depletion of the outstanding contractual volume, whichever is the earlier. Similar contracts have been executed with AGL and TRUenergy that will extend gas supply to these two retailers until 2017.
The domestic gas phase of the North West Shelf Project delivers gas via pipeline to the Western Australian domestic market under long-term contracts. Significant portions of the LNG expansion phase production are sold per year to Japanese buyers under long-term contracts, which expire at various periods in three to 28 years. Medium-term (terms of three to five years) contract and spot sales are made to buyers in Japan, Korea and the US, with the level of spot sales dependent upon plant and shipping availability. In December 2004, an LNG sales and purchase agreement with the Guangdong LNG Project for the purchase and supply of LNG from the North West Shelf became unconditional and sales under the contract commenced in mid 2006.
Our operations in the Americas consist of interests in five producing assets in the Gulf of Mexico operations and the Angostura project off Trinidad and Tobago. Our operating fields in the Gulf of Mexico are Mad Dog, West Cameron 76, Mustang, Genesis and Starlifter. We also own 25 per cent and 22 per cent respectively in the companies that own and operate the Caesar oil pipeline and the Cleopatra gas pipeline, which transport oil and gas from the Green Canyon area to connecting pipelines that transport product to the US mainland. During the year, we sold Green Canyon 18/Ewing Bank 988 and Green Canyon 60 blocks with effect from 1 September 2005. The transactions closed in December 2005 and January 2006 respectively.
Our activities in the Gulf of Mexico were affected by the severe hurricanes in September 2005. Both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita interrupted production for several days and Rita severely damaged our Typhoon facility. We decided not to redevelop Typhoon, Boris and Little Burn tie-back field but rather pursue divestiture options. On 18 August 2006, Energy Resource Technology, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Helix Energy Solutions, acquired a 100 per cent working interest in the Typhoon, Boris and Little Burn oil fields. The agreement is subject to regulatory approval.
Our Europe/Africa/Middle East producing assets include our fields off the UK coast and two operations in Algeria. In the UK, we produce oil and gas from Liverpool Bay and Bruce/Keith fields. In Algeria, we produce wet gas from Ohanet and oil from ROD integrated development.
Information on Petroleum operations
Detailed descriptions of our producing assets by geographical region are listed in the tables below. These tables should be read in conjunction with the production and reserve tables.
In November 2005, our Board approved the development of the Stybarrow oil field in the Exmouth Sub-basin, off the northwest coast of Western Australia. At a water depth of approximately 825 metres, Stybarrow will be Australias deepest oil field development. Project costs are approximately US$600 million (US$300 million our share) and first production is expected during the first quarter of 2008. The Stybarrow project consists of a subsea development and a floating production, storage and offshore loading facility, which will be used to process, store and offload oil to export tankers. The vessel will be disconnectable, double-hulled and able to process approximately 80,000 barrels of liquids a day. We own a 50 per cent operated working interest in this permit with the remaining interest held by Woodside Energy.
North West Shelf Train 5 expansion
In June 2005, our Board approved our 16.67 per cent share of investment in a fifth LNG train expansion of the existing LNG processing facilities located on the Burrup Peninsula, which will increase total LNG production capacity to 43,500 tonnes per day. The project is progressing on schedule with all major construction contracts awarded. Our share of development costs, based on the operators (Woodside Energy) estimate, is approximately US$250 million with first production expected by late 2008. The project cost and schedule are under review.
North West Shelf Angel development
In December 2005, our Board approved our share of development costs for the North West Shelf ventures Angel gas and condensate field. The development will include the installation of the ventures third major offshore production platform which will have a capacity to produce 800 MMcf/d of gas from the North West Shelf and associated infrastructure, including a new subsea 50 kilometre pipeline, which will be tied in to the first trunkline at the North Rankin platform. Our share of development costs, based on the operators (Woodside Energy) estimate, is approximately US$200 million with development expected to be fully operational by the end of 2008.
Zamzama Phase 2
Phase 2 of the Zamzama plant facility upgrade project is currently under construction after being approved by our Board in November 2005. Capacity is expected to increase by approximately 50 per cent (by 150 MMcf/d of gas and 800 bbl/d of condensate) by the end of September 2007 at a cost of US$120 million (US$46 million our share). We signed a gas sales and purchase agreement in November 2005 with the Government of Pakistan and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited. The agreement covers the supply of up to 150 MMcf/d of gas over the life of the field.
We have a 44 per cent working interest in Atlantis South in the deepwater fields in the Gulf of Mexico. The facility will be a moored, semi-submersible platform with a capacity of 200 Mbbl/d of oil and 180 MMcf/d of gas. We have approved a budget of US$1.1 billion (our share) for the development of these reserves. However, the project is experiencing cost and schedule pressures as a result of heated market conditions and additional quality assurance and regulatory certification processing in response to the last years Gulf of Mexico hurricane season. Cost pressures are likely to result in a capital cost increase of more than 30 per cent in excess of the currently approved budget. BP owns the other 56 per cent and operates the project. The project and cost schedule presently remains under review.
We have a 35 per cent interest and will operate the Neptune oil and gas project in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Other members of the joint venture are Marathon Oil (30 per cent), Woodside (20 per cent) and Repsol (15 per cent). The project will construct a stand-alone tension leg platform with a nameplate capacity of 50 Mbbl/d and 50 MMcf/d of gas. Estimated development costs are US$850 million (US$300 million our share). First oil is expected by the end of calendar year 2007.
We have a 44 per cent interest and will operate the Shenzi oil and gas project in the deepwater fields of Gulf of Mexico. Other members of the project are Repsol (28 per cent) and Hess Corporation (28 per cent). The project will construct a stand-alone tension leg platform with a design capacity of 100 Mbbl/d and 50 MMcf/d of gas. Gross costs for the full field development through to 2015 are estimated at approximately US$4.4 billion (our share US$1.94 billion). First oil is expected by mid 2009.
We are seeking approval to construct and operate Cabrillo port, a floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU), located in the Pacific Ocean approximately 22 kilometres offshore from Ventura County, California. This deepwater port would be the receiving terminal for shipments of LNG for the west coast markets of the US. Natural gas production would average 800 MMcf/d with design capacity allowing maximum peak deliveries of 1,500 MMcf/d. The Cabrillo port project is progressing through a permitting process involving US federal, state and local government agencies.
Exploration and appraisal
We are focused on finding significant discoveries through wildcat drilling that will add substantial resources. We have exploration interests throughout the world, particularly the Gulf of Mexico and Western Australia. During the year, our gross expenditure on exploration was US$447 million. Our major exploration interests are as follows:
We have a 50 per cent non-operated interest in the Scarborough gas field in WA-1-R (ExxonMobil holds the remaining 50 per cent and is the operator) and hold 100 per cent interest in WA-346-P, which covers the northern extension of the mapped gas reservoir. The project is still examining a number of concepts for field development.
Pyrenees WA-155-P/WA-12-R exploration
Pyrenees is a joint development plan encompassing the Ravensworth, Crosby and Stickle discoveries. We own a 40 per cent operated working interest in the WA-155-P permit (Ravensworth discovery in this area), with Apache Energy Ltd owning 31.5 per cent and Inpex owning 28.5 per cent. We also own a 71.43 per cent operated working interest in the WA-12-R permit (Crosby and Stickle discoveries in this area), with Apache Energy Ltd owning the remaining 28.57 per cent. The project is currently in feasibility with development options still under evaluation.
Americas Gulf of Mexico
Puma Green Canyon/Western Atwater Foldbelt exploration
The Puma-1 exploration well was drilled in January 2004. The well was drilled in 4,130 feet of water and encountered hydrocarbons in both the original hole and in two subsequent sidetrack bores. The first appraisal well was suspended short of the primary objective by the operator (BP) in August 2006 and will be re-entered in mid fiscal year 2007. Further appraisal is scheduled for 2007.
Following an interim equity agreement, we hold a 29.805 per cent working interest in Puma. The other 70.195 per cent is held by BP (46.195 per cent), Chevron (21.75 per cent) and Statoil (2.25 per cent) subject to future re-determination.
We currently own a 25 per cent working interest in an exploration well on the Knotty Head Prospect located in the Green Canyon area. Partners in the well are Nexen (25 per cent owner and operator), Anadarko (25 per cent) and Unocal (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chevron) (25 per cent). Unocal spudded the exploration well in March 2005. The initial well was completed in mid December 2005 followed by a sidetrack operation, which was completed in early March 2006 to further evaluate the results of the discovery well. The well was drilled in 3,570 feet of water to a total depth of 34,189 feet and encountered hydrocarbons in both the original hole and the subsequent sidetrack. Additional appraisal work will be required to further evaluate the economic potential of the prospect.
Cascade/Chinook Walker Ridge exploration
On 9 August 2006, Petrobras and Devon purchased our 50 per cent working interest in the Cascade blocks. Petrobras and Total EandP USA, Inc acquired our 40 per cent working interest in Chinook. We received cash and a right to future contingent consideration, as well as maintaining an overriding interest in these blocks.
Aluminium Customer Sector Group
Through operations in Australia, Brazil, Mozambique, South Africa and Suriname, our Aluminium CSG mines bauxite, refines bauxite into alumina and smelts alumina into aluminium metal. The principal raw materials required for aluminium production are alumina, electricity, liquid pitch and petroleum coke. Alumina production requires bauxite, caustic soda and electricity. Most of the alumina we use to produce aluminium metal is sourced from our own operations. We buy caustic soda, liquid pitch and petroleum coke from a number of producers around the world.
We sell part of our bauxite and alumina production to other refiners and smelters, and sell aluminium in the following forms: primary aluminium; foundry alloy; extrusion billet; rolling slab and wire rod.
We are the worlds sixth largest producer of primary aluminium with a total operating capacity of approximately 1.3 mtpa of aluminium. We also have a total operating capacity of approximately 14 mtpa of bauxite and 4 mtpa of alumina. We sell aluminium metal to customers around the world, generally at prices linked to the London Metal Exchange (LME) price. Our alumina and bauxite sales are governed by a mixture of contract and spot sales.
The Aluminium CSGs operations comprise the following:
In August 2006, we completed the sale of our 45.5 per cent interest in the Valesul Aluminio SA Joint Venture to our joint venture partner Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD).
Information on the Aluminium CSGs bauxite mining operations
Detailed descriptions of our producing assets are listed in the tables below. These tables should be read in conjunction with the production and reserve tables.
Information on the Aluminium CSGs aluminium smelters and alumina refineries
In 2004, we commenced the US$192 million (our share US$165 million) Worsley Alumina Development Capital Project (DCP). The DCP, which is now mechanically complete, will result in a 0.250 mtpa increase in alumina production (0.215 mtpa our share) to 3.500 mtpa. Ramping up to full production is currently in progress and we expect the final costs to be close to budget.
The joint venture is currently developing the Kaaimangrasie and Klaverbad deposits, which will replace the current Lelydorp and Coermotibo operations upon depletion. The Kaaimangrassie mine began operation on 1 July 2006.
In December 2005, we approved a project to expand the refinery, which will increase annual alumina production capacity by 2.0 mtpa (0.700 mtpa our share) to 3.5 mtpa (1.3 mtpa our share). We have estimated that our share of this investment will total US$518 million.
In Suriname, BHP Billiton and Suralco jointly hold the exploration licence over the Bakhuis region in western Suriname. The rights over this 2,780 square kilometre terrain were granted in November 2003 for a period of 25 months with options for extension. The exploration phase has been finalised in November 2005, and BHP Billiton and Suralco are currently entering the negotiations with the Government of Suriname in order to obtain the exploitation rights for the Bakhuis area.
Base Metals Customer Sector Group
Through operations in Chile, Australia and Peru our Base Metals CSG mines copper, silver, lead, zinc, molybdenum, uranium and gold. We have five primary products:
Some of the ores we mine contain significant quantities of silver and gold, which remain in the base metal concentrates we sell. We receive payment credits for silver and gold recovered by our customers in the smelting and refining process. In addition, we produce gold and silver bullion at our Olympic Dam smelting and refining operation.
Our portfolio of large, low-cost mining operations includes the Escondida mine in Chile, which is the worlds largest source of copper. We are also developing a number of greenfield and brownfield copper mining projects. In addition to conventional mine development, we are also pursuing advanced bioleaching technology, which we believe has the potential to achieve significant reductions in the cost of producing base metals.
Our majority-owned Escondida copper mine in northern Chile has separate processing streams producing high-quality copper concentrate and pure copper cathode. Our other key copper assets are the Cerro Colorado copper mine in northern Chile, the Antamina copper and zinc operations in Peru and the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in Australia.
In 2005-06, our share of total production was in excess of 1.2 mtpa of copper in cathode and contained in concentrate. We provide base metals concentrates to smelters and copper cathode to rod and brass mills and casting plants around the world. We sell the majority of our copper cathode production on annual contracts with a fixed premium and the majority of our copper concentrate production to smelters under long-term contracts with treatment and refining charges negotiated mainly on an annual or bi-annual basis. The price of contained copper is determined by the prevailing LME market price generally for cathodes in the month after shipment and for concentrate three months after shipment. The remainder is sold on a spot basis.
During June 2006, we sold our interest in the Tintaya copper mine in Peru. The profit on disposal was US$296 million (net of a taxation charge of US$143 million).
In June 2005, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale affected the region in which the Cerro Colorado mine is located. Normal road accessibility for heavy trucks was suspended for two weeks and production was halted for two months, then gradually ramped up, returning to pre-earthquake levels in January 2006.
Our Antamina mine in Peru produces both copper and zinc concentrates. We sell most of our copper and zinc concentrates to third party smelters. The remainder of our production is mostly sold to merchants.
Our Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in South Australia is our only asset producing uranium oxide. The bulk of uranium production is sold under long-term, fixed price sales contracts with overseas electricity generating utilities. Gold and silver produced are sold to the Perth Mint, Australia. We acquired Olympic Dam as part of our acquisition of WMC in June 2005.
The Olympic Dam Ore reserves reported in the Ore Reserves section show an overall decrease (proved plus probable, and exclusive of production) of 382 million dry tonnes at 0.9 per cent Cu, 0.3kg/tonne U3O8, 0.2g/t Au and 1.7 g/t Ag from that reported in June 2005, albeit this year at a slightly higher grade. Since the acquisition of Olympic Dam in June 2005, we have been reviewing the future operating and development plans. The June 2006 reserve is based on a revised life-of-mine plan developed in the first half of calendar 2006 that includes only the mining of underground stopes by current methods. It does not include mining of lower grade areas by sub-level cave or other alternative underground methods as included in last years Report.
These lower grade areas in the northern mine, together with the total southern mine area deposit, are the subject of extensive feasibility studies. On completion of these studies, which include both open-cut and underground sub-level and block caving methods, the reserves will be restated.
Currently, drilling is continuing at Olympic Dam to define the extent of mineralisation.
Silver, lead and zinc
Cannington is the worlds largest single mine producer of both silver and lead and a significant producer of zinc.
The majority of Canningtons lead and zinc concentrate production for the 2006-07 fiscal year is committed under long-term contracts with smelters in Australia, Korea, Japan and Europe at prices linked to the relevant LME prices. The balance is allocated to the spot market, primarily to Chinese buyers.
Following an assessment of ground conditions in May 2006, we accelerated the program decline and stope access rehabilitation to improve safety conditions. This program, which we expect to be complete in December 2006, will reduce production by approximately 20 per cent throughout the period. The cost associated with this program is expected to be approximately US$25 million.
Information on Base Metals mining operations
Detailed descriptions of our producing assets are listed in the tables below. These tables should also be read in conjunction with the production and reserves tables below.
Escondida Norte and Escondida Sulphide Leach
In October 2005, we commenced mining the Escondida Norte orebody, which was developed at a cost of US$431 million (100 per cent terms). In June 2006, first cathode was produced from a newly constructed bioleaching facility to process previously stockpiled low-grade sulphide ore. The project costs are being finalised and are expected to be close to the budget of US$870 million (100 per cent terms) excluding foreign exchange impacts of the stronger Chilean peso.
In October 2004, we approved the development of the Spence open-cut copper mine. The project is currently within the budget of US$990 million excluding foreign exchange impacts of the stronger Chilean peso. The project is located 150 kilometres northeast of the port city of Antofagasta and 50 kilometres southeast of the mining city of Calama in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The project will produce copper cathode by acid and bacterial leaching followed by sulphide solvent extraction and electrowinning. The project will have a nominal capacity of 200,000 tonnes of copper cathode and an estimated mine life of 19 years. Electrical power will be supplied via a 70 kilometre high-voltage transmission line connected to Chiles northern power grid. Spence will own this transmission line and purchase electricity under contracts from a local generating company. First cathode production is scheduled for the second quarter of the 2006-07 financial year.
Due to the size of the Olympic Dam orebody, there is potential to further increase the size of the operation over and above the current capacity. A pre-feasibility study is currently being undertaken to examine capacity expansion options. The scope of the pre-feasibility studies will address operational capacity, mining methods, processing and smelter options and the infrastructure, health, safety and environmental practices required to support the expansion options. A substantial expansion of Olympic Dam will require completion of feasibility studies and subsequent Board approvals as well as various regulatory and governmental approvals covering a range of operational matters.
Carbon Steel Materials Customer Sector Group
Our Carbon Steel Materials CSG is a leading supplier of core raw materials and services to the global steel industry producing and marketing a full range of steel-making raw materials: iron ore, coking coal and manganese ore and alloys. We have mines in Australia, Brazil and South Africa.
Our principal iron ore operations are based in the Pilbara region of northwestern Australia. Through a series of 100 per cent BHP Billiton-owned and majority-owned joint ventures we mine iron ore from a number of open-cut mines and transport it by our own rail network to our port facilities at Port Hedland. We also hold a 50 per cent interest in an iron ore mine in Brazil. We sell lump ore and fines from Australia and Samarco sells pellets from Brazil to steel producers, which are principally exported to China, other countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Europe and the United States, generally under long-term contracts with prices set annually. Iron ore mined from Yandi, Jimblebar and Mt Goldsworthy Area C deposits is sold under marketing arrangements that are detailed in the footnotes to the production and reserves tables.
On 24 August 2005, we announced the permanent closure of the hot briquetted iron production facilities at our wholly-owned Boodarie Iron plant in Western Australia. We intend to retain the Boodarie Iron beneficiation plant to complete feasibility studies into longer-term options for our lower-grade iron ore.
We mine metallurgical coal in Australia and sell it to steel producers in Japan, Europe, Korea, India, Taiwan, Brazil, China and Australia generally under annual contracts.
Together with Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd, we own six open-cut coal mines, two underground coal mines and a port in the Bowen Basin, Queensland, Australia. These coal mining operations are managed through BM Alliance Coal Operations Pty Ltd (BMA), a jointly owned entity, and the coal produced is marketed through another jointly owned entity, BM Alliance Coal Marketing Pty Ltd. These mines are separated into two joint venture structures in which we have a 50 per cent interest, namely the Central Queensland Coal Associates (CQCA) joint venture and the Gregory joint venture. Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd has the remaining 50 per cent interest in these two joint ventures. In addition, BMA operates one other Bowen Basin mine, and is in the development phase for another, for BHP Mitsui Coal Pty Ltd, in which we have an 80 per cent interest. The majority of the coal production is high-quality metallurgical coal used for steelmaking.
The CQCA joint venture owns and operates the Hay Point coal terminal in Mackay, Queensland, through which most of the ventures coal is shipped. Hay Point handles around 35 mtpa and can accommodate bulk carriers of up to 230,000 deadweight tonnes.
We also own and operate four underground coal mines in the Illawarra region of New South Wales (Australia). Coal from these mines is either sold to BlueScope Steels Port Kembla Steelworks or shipped to domestic and international customers.
We hold our South African manganese interests via a 60 per cent holding in Samancor Manganese. In South Africa, Samancor produces manganese ore from two mines at Hotazel in the Northern Cape Province, produces manganese alloy at a plant (Metalloys) in Gauteng Province and has a 51 per cent interest in Manganese Metal Company, a producer of electrolytic manganese metal. During 2005-06, Samancor Manganese sold its 100 per cent interest in DMS Powders, a business producing atomised and milled ferrosilicon, to a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) consortium. In July 2006, the Company purchased Mitsuis 50 per cent shareholding in Advalloy (Pty) Ltd, the refined alloy producer in Gauteng Province, making Samancor Manganese the 100 per cent owner of Advalloy. In Australia the business produces ore at Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory (GEMCO) and manganese alloys in northern Tasmania (TEMCO). We have a 60 per cent effective ownership of both GEMCO and TEMCO. We are the managers of all the above operations.
We sell manganese ore to alloyers principally in Asia, Europe, Australia and South Africa. Approximately two-thirds of these sales are priced annually. The rest are priced quarterly or occasionally on a spot basis. We sell manganese metal and alloys principally to steelmakers under long-term contracts that usually provide for quarterly adjustment of prices, either by negotiation or reference to published market prices.
Information on Carbon Steel Materials mining operations
A detailed description of our producing assets is listed in the following tables. These tables should also be read in conjunction with the production table and reserves table below.
Information on the Carbon Steel Material CSGs smelters, refineries and processing plants
Western Australia Iron Ore
We have undertaken a series of development projects referred to as Rapid Growth Projects (RGP). In February 2004, we completed an expansion of our Port Hedland facilities, which increased capacity to 100 mtpa. In October 2004, our Board approved Rapid Growth Project 2 (RGP2), which comprises mine, rail and port capacity increases through the development of orebody 18, purchase of additional rolling stock and a new car dumper at our Finucane Island facility at Port Hedland. RGP2 was to have increased system capacity to 118 mtpa by the end of the second quarter of the 2006-07 financial year. However the closure of Boodarie Iron in 2005 has reduced system capacity by one mtpa. There will also be an eight mtpa reduction in capacity due to the suspension in September 2006 of the Goldsworthy shiploading operations at Finucane Island, related to RGP3.
RGP3 was approved by our Board in October 2005. RGP3 comprises mine rail and port expansions. Installed capacity at the Area C mine will increase by 20 mtpa by the second quarter of financial year 2007-08.
In October 2005, our Board approved construction of a third pellet plant at Ponta Ubu, together with a mine expansion, a new concentrator at Germano, port enhancements and a second slurry pipeline. We estimate that the project will increase iron ore pellet capacity by 7.6 million tonnes at a cost of US$1.18 billion (US$590 million our share). Production is scheduled to commence during the first half of 2008.
We are conducting a feasibility study into the development of a five mtpa coking coal operation under the Maruwai Coal Contract of Work agreement with the Indonesian Government. The study is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2006-07.
Diamonds and Specialty Products Customer Sector Group
The Diamonds and Specialty Products CSG encompasses our diamonds and titanium minerals businesses and included the fertilisers business until its sale in August 2006. Our principal operations are located in Canada, South Africa, Mozambique and Australia.
During the 2005-06 fiscal year, our minerals exploration and technology functions were removed from the Diamonds and Specialty Products CSG.
The cornerstone of our diamonds business is the EKATI Diamond Mine. EKATI has produced an average of approximately four million carats of rough diamonds annually over the last two years. Due to changes in available ore sources, future rough diamond production may vary from historical levels. Annual sales from EKATI (including minority shares) represent around 3 per cent of current world rough diamond supply by weight and 6 per cent by value.
We sell most of our rough diamonds to international diamond buyers through our Antwerp sales office. We sell up to 10 per cent of our rough diamonds to two Canadian manufacturers, and we sell both polished and rough diamonds directly to jewellers. We sell polished diamonds, manufactured through contract polishing arrangements, through our CanadaMark and AURIASTM brands.
Our interest in titanium minerals consists of our 50 per cent effective interest in Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in South Africa, and the Corridor Sands and TiGen minerals sands projects in Mozambique.
RBM is a leading producer of titania slag, high-purity pig iron, rutile and zircon from mineral sands. The zircon, rutile and pig iron are sold as end products both internationally and locally. 95 per cent of the total capacity is exported, yielding a world market share of approximately 15 per cent for titanium feedstocks and 20 per cent for zircon. Approximately 90 per cent of the titanium dioxide slag produced by RBM is suitable for the chloride process of titanium dioxide pigment manufacture and is sold internationally under a variety of short, medium and long-term contracts. Corridor Sands and TiGen are currently in their pre-feasibility phases.
Our fertiliser business was built around Southern Cross Fertilisers (SCF) which we acquired as part of the WMC acquisition. SCF is a major supplier of phosphate-based fertilisers to the Australian market. SCF has an integrated network of plants in Mt Isa and Phosphate Hill and a phosphate rock orebody at Phosphate Hill. SCF produces di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP).
On 1 August 2006, we completed the sale of SCF to Incitec Pivot Limited for US$98 million.
In December 2005, we sold our 33.3 per cent interest in the Hi-Fert distribution and marketing business to the ELF Australia joint venture for US$15 million.
Information on Diamonds and Specialty Products mining operations
A detailed description of our producing assets is listed in the following tables. These tables should also be read in conjunction with the production table and reserves table below.
In June 2006, we approved the development of the third underground mine at the EKATI Diamond Mine in Canada. In addition to the mine development, the investment provides for mine ventilation systems, an underground conveyor connecting to the existing Panda underground conveyor and minor surface infrastructure and mobile equipment. The project will deliver a total of 7.1 million dry tonnes of ore to the process plant and recover 6.5 million carats of high-quality Koala diamonds. Total project life is expected to be 11 years. Total development costs are estimated at US$250 million (our share US$200 million). First production is expected in the third quarter of calendar 2007.
We own 90 per cent of Corridor Sands Ltd, the joint venture company that holds the Corridor Sands mineral tenement. The other 10 per cent equity is owned by the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Ltd.
Currently, the project is in pre-feasibility stage to study the options to exploit undeveloped ilmenite deposits near the town of Chibuto, 190 kilometres north of Maputo and 50 kilometres inland from Xa Xai in the Gaza Province, Southern Mozambique. A world-scale integrated open-cut mining, concentration and smelting operation is envisaged to produce titania slag and high-purity iron, as well as the minerals rutile and zircon.
We have a Prospecting and Research Licence (Mineral Tenement) on land that incorporates the Corridor Sands mineral sands project, which we can convert to a mining title upon committing to a development plan.
We own a 100 per cent interest in TiGen, another significant ilmenite orebody, located at Moebase in northern Mozambique. A pre-feasibility study has been completed and market studies continue to determine when the project should move into feasibility.
Energy Coal Customer Sector Group
Our Energy Coal CSG is one of the worlds largest producers and marketers of export thermal (energy) coal. We mine energy coal in South Africa, Australia, Colombia and the United States. Most of our domestic energy coal sales are under medium and long-term fixed-price contracts with power generation companies and utilities in Australian, South African and US. Most of our export sales are made under short and medium-term contracts in Europe, Asia and the US.
Through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Ingwe Collieries Limited, we operate six coal mines in the Witbank region of Mpumalanga province of South Africa. In 2005-06, we supplied 30 million tonnes of energy coal to Eskom, a public electricity service company in South Africa, and exported the bulk of the remaining 23 million tonnes. In July 2006, we announced a memorandum of understanding with Eskom to explore conversion of the Optimum mine into a domestic producer which would exclusively supply Eskom.
We also own 37.4 per cent of the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT), through which Ingwes exports are shipped. RBCT has a capacity of 72 mtpa. Upon the completion of the sale of Koornfontein as referred to below, our holding of RBCT reduces to 35.3 per cent.
In Australia, we mine energy coal at Mt Arthur mine. We are currently undertaking underground pre-feasibility work on the adjacent Bayswater mining area. We deliver approximately one third of Mt Arthurs production to local power stations via a 10 kilometre overland conveyor. The remainder is transported by rail approximately 100 kilometres to the port of Newcastle.
In New Mexico, we own and operate the Navajo open-cut and San Juan underground mines. Navajos production is sold to the Four Corners Power Plant under long-term contracts. San Juans production is sold to the nearby San Juan Generating Station under long-term contracts.
The Cerrejon Coal Company operates open-cut mines in La Guajira province in northeastern Colombia. Production is mainly for export.
Information on Energy Coal mining operations
A description of our producing assets is listed in the following tables. These tables should be read in conjunction with the production and reserves tables below.
Stainless Steel Materials Customer Sector Group
Our Stainless Steel Materials CSG is the worlds third largest nickel producer. Stainless Steel Materials primarily services the stainless steel industry through its wide range of high-quality nickel products. We produce the following products:
In addition, we supply nickel and cobalt to other markets, including the specialty alloy, foundry, chemicals and refractory material industries. In the 2005-06 fiscal year, approximately 80 per cent of our sales were to the stainless steel industry under a mix of long-term and medium-term contracts with prices linked to the relevant LME prices. Approximately 5 per cent of our sales were made at spot LME prices.
We acquired Nickel West as part of the WMC acquisition in June 2005. Nickel West is the worlds third largest producer of nickel in concentrate. It is a fully integrated nickel business comprising mines, concentrators, a smelter and a refinery in Western Australia. We mine nickel ore at Leinster and Mt Keith and concentrate the ore on-site. The combined concentrate product is transported by rail and mixed with concentrate from our Kambalda concentrator at our Kalgoorlie smelter. The Kalgoorlie smelter produces nickel matte and sulphuric acid. During 2005-06, approximately 61 per cent of the nickel matte was sent by rail to our Kwinana refinery, while the rest was exported. The Kwinana refinery produces nickel metal (LME briquettes and nickel powder), ammonium sulphate, copper sulphide and mixed sulphides (mainly nickel and cobalt), which are exported (excluding ammonium sulphate). Ammonium sulphate is sold locally with any excess exported.
Cerro Matoso is an integrated nickel mining, smelting and refining operation located in northern Colombia. Cerro Matoso is the worlds second largest producer of ferro-nickel and a nickel industry leader in unit cost of production. Cerro Matoso combines a high-grade lateritic nickel deposit with large-scale rotary kiln/electric furnace production facilities to produce ferro-nickel for export.
The Yabulu refinery is a lateritic nickel and cobalt processing plant. We purchase approximately 3.5 wet mtpa of nickel and cobalt-bearing laterite ore from third party mines in New Caledonia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The purchases are made under short and medium-term supply agreements. The refiner produces high-purity nickel and cobalt products that are used in the manufacture of stainless steel, specialty steels, alloys and chemicals. The price of the ore we purchase is linked to the nickel and cobalt metal content and current LME metal prices. We sell the nickel products with varying metal content in the range 78 per cent to 99 per cent nickel. We sell the cobalt in oxide-hydroxide form.
Information on Stainless Steel Materials mining operations
Detailed descriptions of our producing assets are located in the tables below. These tables should be read in conjunction with the production and reserve tables below.
Information on the Stainless Steel Materials CSGs smelters, refineries and processing plants
In March 2004, we approved the expansion of the Yabulu refinery (in conjunction with the development of the Ravensthorpe Nickel Project described below). The expansion will increase nickel production capacity of the existing solvent extraction and cobalt processing facilities to an estimated 76,000 tonnes per annum and extend the life of the refinery by approximately 25 years. First nickel metal production is expected from the expanded refinery in 2007. The current forecast cost of the project is US$460 million.
The Ravensthorpe Nickel Project was approved in March 2004 and has an approved budget of US$1,340 million. However, the project continues to experience cost and schedule pressure as a result of the heated market in Western Australia. Cost pressures are likely to result in a capital cost increase of at least 30 per cent. A detailed review of both the cost and delivery schedule commenced during the June 2006 quarter. The project includes the development of a mine, treatment plant and associated infrastructure near Ravensthorpe in Western Australia. The Ravensthorpe processing plant will produce a mixed nickel cobalt hydroxide intermediate product, which will feed the expansion of the Yabulu refinery described above.
The table below details our Petroleum CSGs historical net crude oil and condensate, natural gas, LNG, LPG and ethane production by region for the three years ended 30 June 2006, 2005 and 2004. We have shown volumes and tonnages of marketable production after deduction of applicable royalties, fuel and flare. We have included in the table average production costs per unit of production and average sales prices for oil and condensate and natural gas for each of those periods.
The table below details our mineral and derivative product production for all CSGs except Petroleum for the three years ended 30 June 2006, 2005 and 2004. Production shows our share unless otherwise stated.
Our customer focused marketing group manages the sale and delivery of our products. The marketing group is based around hubs in The Hague and Singapore, and network offices at strategic locations around the world, including Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, Pittsburgh, Houston, Johannesburg and Rio de Janeiro allowing for close proximity to our customers. The marketing group is organised along the lines of a matrix, with sections within the group being primarily responsible for marketing the products of a particular CSG. In addition to marketing our own products, we also market third party products under a variety of marketing arrangements. Our Energy Marketing (EM) group also trades a variety of energy related products as described below.
In addition to our commodities marketing desks we provide a centralised freight trading and logistics service to the Group.
Energy Marketing (EM) was set up in July 2002, with the responsibility of coordinating our marketing activities in the energy commodity markets, namely coal, gas, emissions credits and electricity and uranium oxide. The group is based in The Hague and is part of our marketing function.
EM is currently active in purchasing and selling third party physical gas and small amounts of electricity in the UK and emissions credits in Europe. In the 2004-05 year EM also participated in gas storage capacity to facilitate its gas sale and purchase activities. Where required, EM also buys or sells pipeline capacity to transport gas onto the UK gas grid. Most products are transacted over the counter and are principal-to-principal transactions in the wholesale market. The emissions strategy is largely defensive to meet internal asset requirements as well as to facilitate increased coal sales into Europe.
Freight Trading and Logistics
We have a centralised ocean freight business that manages our in-house freight requirements.
The primary purpose of the freight business is to create competitive advantages for us through the procurement and operation of quality and cost-effective shipping, and to contribute to our profitability by trading freight and carrying complementary external cargoes.
The freight business participates primarily in the dry bulk sector aligned with our major trades and handles approximately 115 million tonnes of cargo per year. At any one time we have approximately 100 ships employed making the Group one of the worlds largest users of dry bulk shipping. The vast majority of vessels are chartered under various commercial terms though the business retains equity interest in a small number of vessels. External freight revenue was approximately US$629 million for 2005-06.
The freight business is based in The Hague, where it is an integral part of the BHP Billiton marketing group. Smaller Melbourne and Singapore-based groups are in place to directly support Australian and Pacific-based shipping activities.
In addition to its freight management and trading activities, the freight business incorporates a skill base to manage its marine risk and provide technical support. It holds a number of marine-related investments including a shareholding in shipping risk manager Rightships of Melbourne.
Our exploration program is integral to our growth strategy and is focused on identifying and capturing new world-class projects for future development, or projects that add value to existing operations. Targets for this group are generally large, low-cost mining projects in a range of minerals including bauxite, coal, copper, diamonds, iron ore, manganese, nickel and silver. The process of discovery runs from early-stage mapping through the full range to drilling. The program is global and prioritises targets, consistent with our assessment of the relative attractiveness of each mineral.
To improve our exploration effectiveness we developed and operate the FALCONTM, GEOFERRETTM, and SOLIDEARTHTM 3D modelling systems. FALCONTM is an airborne gravity gradiometer that measures minute changes in the Earths gravity. This technology provides us with a considerable advantage in the search for mineral and hydrocarbon deposits. GEOFERRETTM is a deep penetrating ground electromagnetic system that is specially designed for the detection of conductive, deep mineral deposits. These systems enable us to reinvigorate exploration in established areas and have opened up new exploration opportunities for us, both on our own and through arrangements with junior explorers. We are currently using FALCONTM for diamond exploration in Canada and southern Africa, and for copper, nickel, iron and coal exploration in Australia. GEOFERRETTM is in use for nickel exploration in Western Australia.
We are also pursuing an increasing number of opportunities in prospective developing countries. For example, while we continue to pursue copper exploration activities in Chile and Peru, we are also exploring opportunities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Likewise, in diamonds we have an extensive program in Canada, Angola and the DRC. In nickel we have a program in Western Australia and we are also exploring in the Philippines, Africa and Brazil. In the bulk commodities, activities are focused on a smaller number of world-class terrains in Australia, Brazil and west Africa.
Our exploration activities are organised from seven principal offices in Perth, Australia; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Vancouver, Canada; Santiago, Chile; Beijing, China; Moscow, Russia; and Johannesburg, South Africa.
In addition to our centralised exploration function, several of our CSGs undertake exploration activities, principally aimed at delineating and categorising mineral deposits at existing operations.
In 2005-06 we spent US$326 million on minerals exploration. Of this, US$134 million was spent by the centralised function and US$192 million was spent at the CSG level. Of the CSG expenditure total, US$76 million was spent to acquire a five-year coal exploration licence in the Gunnedah Basin (Australia).
We operate four industrial research and development laboratories located in Melbourne, Perth and Newcastle in Australia, and Johannesburg in South Africa. The tasks of the laboratories are to:
To ensure alignment with the CSGs, these activities are paid for by the business groups within the CSGs. Our proprietary FALCON gravity gradiometry is a good example of the type of new technology development we are seeking. The number of staff members directly employed on these activities is approximately 220.
The main activities of the four research laboratories are:
Government regulations touch all aspects of BHP Billitons operations. However, because of the geographical diversity of our operations, no one set of government regulations is likely to have a material effect on our business, taken as a whole.
The ability to extract minerals, oil and natural gas is fundamental to our business. In most jurisdictions, the rights to undeveloped mineral or petroleum deposits are owned by the state. Accordingly, we rely upon the rights granted to us by the government that owns the mineral, oil or natural gas. These rights usually take the form of a lease or licence, which gives us the right to access the land and extract the product. The terms of the lease or licence, including the time period for which it is effective, are specific to the laws of the relevant government. Generally, we own the product we extract and royalties or similar taxes are payable to the government. Some of our operations, such as our oil and gas operations in Trinidad and Tobago and Algeria, are subject to production sharing contracts under which both we as the contractor and the government are entitled to a share of the production. In addition, the contractor is entitled to recover its exploration and productions cost from governments share of production.
Related to the ability to extract is the ability to process the minerals, oil or natural gas. Again, we rely upon the relevant government to grant the rights necessary to transport and treat the extracted material in order to ready it for sale.
Underlying our business of extracting and processing natural resources is the ability to explore for those orebodies. The rights to explore for minerals, oil and natural gas are granted to us by the government that owns those natural resources that we wish to explore. Usually, the right to explore carries with it the obligation to spend a defined amount of money on the exploration or to undertake particular exploration activities.
Governments also impose obligations on us in respect of environmental protection, land rehabilitation, occupational health and safety and native land title with which we must comply in order to continue to enjoy the right to conduct our operations within that jurisdiction. These obligations often require us to make substantial expenditures to minimise or remediate the environmental impact of our operations, to ensure the safety of our employees and contractors and the like. For further information on these types of obligations, refer to the Health, Safety, Environment and Community subsection of the Business overview section of this Report.
Of particular note are the following regulatory regimes:
South African Mining Charter
As outlined in Risk factors section of this report, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 2002 took effect on 1 May 2004. It provides for state custodianship of all mineral deposits and abolishes the prior system of privately held mineral rights. Holders of rights granted under the previous system, known as Old Order Rights, must apply to convert their rights to New Order Rights prior to 30 April 2009.
In order for the conversions to be affected, we will be required to comply with the terms of the Broad Based Socio Economic Empowerment Charter, which has been published under the Act. The Charter requires holders of mining rights to achieve 26 per cent ownership participation by historically disadvantaged South Africans in their mining operations by 30 April 2014, of which 15 per cent needs to be achieved by 30 April 2009.
The Act and the Mining Charter are not specific as to how the 26 per cent will be measured (for example, value or tonnage or a combination of both). As a result, the South African Government published a scorecard that provides guidelines for measuring the progress of mining companies towards meeting the requirements of the Mining Charter. Under the scorecard approach, the requirements for conversion deal not only with ownership, but also with such aspects as management, procurement and social development.
We support the broad objectives of the Mining Charter, most of which accord with long-established programs that we have under way. We are already a prominent participant in the South African empowerment processes, including various empowerment transactions, corporate social investment through the BHP Billiton Development Trust and the Samancor Foundation, and in employment and procurement equity across our operations.
Uranium production in Australia
To mine, process, transport and sell uranium from within Australia we are required to hold possession and export permissions, which are also subject to regulation by the Australian Government or bodies that report to the Australian Government.
To possess nuclear material such as uranium in Australia, a Permit to Possess Nuclear Materials (Possession Permit) must be held pursuant to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987 (Cth) (Non-Proliferation Act). A Possession Permit is issued by the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, an office established under the Non-Proliferation Act, which administers Australias domestic nuclear safeguards requirements and that reports to the Australian Government.
To export uranium from Australia, a Permit to Export Natural Uranium (Export Permit) must be held pursuant to the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 (Cth). The Export Permit is issued by the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources.
A special transport permit will be required under the Non-Proliferation Act by a party that transports nuclear material from one specified location to another specified location. As we engage service providers to transport uranium, those service providers are required to hold a special transport permit.
Health, Safety, Environment and Community
Our facilities and operations are subject to extensive general and industry-specific, health, safety and environmental regulations in countries where we operate. These regulations include those relating to mine rehabilitation, the handling and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous materials and occupational health and safety.
We employ health, safety, environment and community experts to advise us on technical and regulatory matters relevant to the management of our facilities and operations and we continually invest in plant and equipment to ensure that we comply with our obligations under health, safety and environmental laws and regulations.
The costs of future compliance or further investments required to meet health, safety and environment laws and regulations are difficult to estimate, but we consider it unlikely that these costs would have a material adverse effect on our financial position or results of operations.
Our approach to health, safety, environment and the community is incorporated in our Charter (our Charter is a statement that outlines the Groups purpose, values and overall mission), which states that we have an overriding commitment to health, safety, environmental
responsibility and sustainable development. This is further codified in our Sustainable Development Policy (released in September 2005 and superseding our earlier Health, Safety, Environment and Community Policy), which states that we will:
In addition, we follow management standards that form the basis for the implementation of our Sustainable Development Policy and associated management systems at all levels. They cover the entire life cycle of our activities from exploration and development to operations, including decommissioning, closure and rehabilitation.
To complement the management standards, our sites assess their potential exposure to human rights issues using a self-assessment tool. This is consistent with our target of ensuring that we are not involved in transgressions of the Principles contained in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Closure-related activities have the potential to impact cash flow, accounting provisions, residual liabilities and access to future resources. We have adopted a Closure Standard in response to these issues. The Standard comprises a number of requirements including estimating expected cost and financial provisioning for closure. We make provision for the rehabilitation and closure of the Groups mining and processing facilities along with the decommissioning of offshore oil platforms and infrastructure associated with petroleum activities.
HIV/AIDS infection among our southern African workforce is a significant issue, as it is in southern Africa generally. UNAIDS estimates 18.8 per cent of adults in South Africa (aged 15-49 years) are HIV positive and the rate is increasing. The HIV/AIDS infection rate of our southern African workforce is currently estimated at 14 per cent and is expected to increase over the next decade. The costs and lost workers time associated with HIV/AIDS may adversely affect our southern African operations. We have set up universal health insurance for all employees as a condition of employment. Funding provided by the Company for all employees ensures that appropriate, affordable insurance is available, including provision of relevant anti-retroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS, and in some cases this is associated with a managed care program to ensure that HIV/AIDS is properly coordinated and the funding provided is used in an optimal manner. Entry into HIV/AIDS treatment programs provided through the medical insurers is confidential to the employee.
We recognise the potential implications of the December 1997 Kyoto Protocol, as well as other policy developments at an international, national and sub-national level. These policies include the Emissions Trading System of the European Union (EU ETS) and the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6), as well as various regulatory measures to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The EU ETS, which began its first phase of emissions trading in January 2005, imposes formal requirements regarding greenhouse gas emissions management on our Petroleum assets in the UK and it has had an impact on some of our Energy Coal customers in Europe. The AP6 partnership sets out an agenda to identify mutual interest and commercial benefit as key steps in addressing the challenge of climate change and is committed to establishing a practical path for the development and deployment of technical solutions to climate change. It is uncertain at this stage how these evolving policy developments will affect our operations or customers over time.
The European Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) system is anticipated to commence operation in April 2007. REACH will require manufacturers, importers and downstream users of chemical substances, including metals and minerals, to establish that substances can be used without negatively affecting health or the environment. The extent to which our operations and customers are impacted by these changes is not yet clear as final wording is still being debated. Additional compliance costs, litigation expenses, regulatory delays, remediation expenses and operational costs may eventuate.
In May 1998, we divested our petroleum businesses in Hawaii. We indemnified the buyers for certain past liabilities and capped this indemnification at US$10 million, much of which has now been spent. Following the divestment, we retained some environmental liabilities for which we have indemnified the buyer and that are uncapped, as described below.
We operated a petroleum terminal, now decommissioned, at a site that is within an area that has since been declared a Hawaii State Superfund Site. We are currently participating in a voluntary effort with a number of other parties to undertake site assessment, to be followed by a risk assessment and, ultimately, risk-based corrective actions.
Also within the Superfund area is land owned by us, which previously contained a manufactured gas plant. Litigation over a claim brought by a neighbour, Castle and Cooke, asserting that contamination on its property arose from this land, was settled in December 2000. We have engaged a contractor to remediate the former gas plant site to the satisfaction of the Hawaii Department of Health and to meet conditions of the Settlement Agreement. The State of Hawaii has previously requested information from us with respect to contaminated material unearthed in the vicinity of another former manufactured gas plant site in Hilo.
In April 2006, as result of a cracked pipe a small volume of oil (0.8 cubic metres) was released from the Lennox Platform into Liverpool Bay. Response actions were undertaken and clean-up was completed.
In the UK and Australia, operators of offshore petroleum facilities are required by law to develop and submit a safety case to the regulator for review and acceptance before they can operate. Under the regulations, the operator is required to demonstrate, through a formal process of safety studies, risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis measured against specific performance standards and acceptance criteria, that the risks to the safety of workers on the facility have been reduced to a level which is as low as reasonably practicable.
Our safety cases have been accepted for all our operated offshore facilities in the UK and Australia. We are also ensuring safety cases are developed and implemented for new petroleum projects, including where it is not a requirement of local legislation. We are continuing to improve the safety cases by conducting regular reviews in consultation with our workforce.
We are actively involved within the aluminium industry to develop protocols for measurement and management of greenhouse gas as a consequence of aluminium production. Our operations focus is on the reduction of greenhouse gas intensity and fluoride emissions through the implementation of technology and management of ongoing operational practices to improve performance.
We have contributed to a life cycle analysis of aluminium end-products through our participation in the industry association. This study will continue as we develop a strategy to reduce potential impacts from the use of our products.
One fatal accident occurred in July 2005 as a result of injuries sustained by an employee when a drill from an approaching drive face triggered an unplanned detonation at the Olympic Dam (Australia) underground mine.
We are currently updating closure plans and costing for all assets, including the recently acquired Olympic Dam operation in Australia, to be consistent with the corporate Closure Standard. In Peru and Chile, newly developing regulation on mine closure will require submission of these plans and posting of financial assurance in the coming years. Closure plans and costing have been completed for all Base Metals closed mines.
Radiation management and product stewardship of both copper and uranium are higher profile management issues with the acquisition of Olympic Dam.
The responsible management of groundwater resources in arid environments is a priority for Base Metals, particularly with increasing water demand for our expanding operations. Base Metals is placing a priority on reducing fresh water consumption and maintaining ecosystems in our water resource areas.
BHP Copper has retained management of certain responsibilities associated with prior operations of BHP Copper Superior (United States). The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Voluntary Remediation Program (VRP) that has been implemented includes a review to determine any possible health risks associated with properties adjacent to the facility. A formal risk assessment is being reviewed to determine if any future work is required.
At the closed Elliot Lake (Canada) uranium properties, which we acquired as part of our acquisition of Rio Algom Ltd in 2000, licences for long-term care were issued in September 2002 by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for five of eight historic properties. The remaining three properties were added to the licence after public hearings held in April 2004. Following the last hearing on the licence renewal in December 2005, the Commission decided to issue the long-term care licence for an indefinite period based on the existing long-term care commitments, with formal reviews every five years.
Carbon Steel Materials
In January 1998, we sold our electrolytic manganese dioxide business at Newcastle (Australia). As part of the transaction we issued a guarantee to the benefit of the purchaser, Delta Electrical Industries Ltd, covering some of our obligations under the sale agreement. The transaction was an asset sale and the guarantee is not limited in amount but is limited in duration. Our guarantee to Delta Electrical Industries Ltd expires on 28 December 2027. Our obligations under the guarantee relate to any prior contamination of the ground both at the former facility site and Kooragang Island at Newcastle, the former waste disposal site. We built our facility on land reclaimed from our former steel business. We cannot accurately determine our potential liability at any point in time during the term of the guarantee. However, we do not consider that the cost, if any, will have a material adverse effect on our financial position or results of operations.
We have completed a life cycle analysis of our major products. This study will continue as we develop a strategy to reduce potential impacts from the use of our products.
Diamonds and Specialty Products
BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc concluded the process of renewing the main EKATI Diamond Mine Water Licence in October 2005 for the period to 2013 on largely similar terms and conditions to those of the original Water Licence.
EKATI remains a signatory to the Kimberly Process, which is a key product stewardship global initiative of the diamond industry to ensure the verification of the source of diamonds across the world.
One fatal accident occurred in June 2006 at the Ingwe Rietspruit mine (South Africa), as a result of injuries sustained by a contractor after the accidental release of coal into the flask in which he was working.
We recognise that climate change is a challenge for Energy Coal and we are seeking to respond to this through supporting targeted research aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, particularly for our customers. Climate change issues are also considered in all relevant business decisions.
Energy Coal had one significant environmental incident during 2005-06 at an Ingwe operation, involving the discharge of poor quality water during abnormally high rainfall conditions. This has resulted in a review of our long term water management strategy, including possible fast tracking of treatment alternatives. Financial provisions have been made to address these changes. Action plans are under development to implement the updated water strategy.
We have conducted a life cycle analysis of our products. This study will continue as we develop a strategy to reduce potential impacts from the use of our products.
Stainless Steel Materials
One fatal accident occurred in February 2006 at the Leinster Nickel Operation (Australia) underground mine as a result of injuries sustained by a contractor after an unplanned detonation of a cannon during set-up to clear a blocked orepass.
The European Union has conducted a comprehensive health risk assessment of five nickel substances (nickel metal and the soluble nickel compounds of nickel sulphate, carbonate, chloride and nitrate). The risk assessment has concluded that under the EU rules of classification, soluble nickel compounds are category 1 carcinogens, category 3 mutagens and category 2 reproductive toxicants. Nickel metal remains a category 3 carcinogen but this will be reviewed in 2007 following the conclusion of a current animal study. The new classifications may result in more stringent exposure standards. We are currently assessing the impact that the more stringent EU exposure limits could have on our operations in Colombia and Australia, although the risk of exposure to soluble nickel salts at our operations is low. We continue to provide our employees and contractors with information on health, safety and environmental issues associated with our products. We also provide advice on the responsible use of our products to customers, users of our products and other interested parties.
The EU environmental risk assessment is scheduled for completion in 2007 and we continue to assess its potential impact on our operations.
We are conducting life cycle assessments of our products to understand the potential impacts from their manufacture and use. This study will continue as we develop a strategy around reduction of these potential impacts.
Decommissioning, site rehabilitation and environmental costs
Our operations are subject to various national, regional, and local laws and regulations governing the protection of the environment. Furthermore, we have a policy of ensuring that rehabilitation is planned and financed from the early stages of any operation. Provision is made for the rehabilitation of our mining and processing facilities along with the decommissioning of oil platforms and infrastructure associated with petroleum activities. The estimation of the cost of future rehabilitation and decommissioning activities is subject to uncertainties. These uncertainties include the legal and regulatory framework, the magnitude of possible contamination and the timing and extent of rehabilitation and decommissioning activities required. Whilst the provisions at 30 June 2006 represent the best estimate of the future costs required, these uncertainties might result in future actual expenditure differing from the amounts provided at this time.
These rehabilitation and decommissioning expenditures are mostly expected to be paid over the next 30 years. The provisions for rehabilitation and decommissioning are derived by discounting the expected expenditures to their net present value. The estimated total site rehabilitation cost (undiscounted and in todays dollars) to be incurred in the future arising from operations to date, and including amounts already provided for, is US$6,939 million (2005: US$6,284 million).
At 30 June 2006, we had provided US$2,839 million (2005: US$2,509 million) for reclamation and decommissioning costs relating to operating sites in the provision for site rehabilitation. In addition, we have certain obligations associated with maintaining and/or remediating closed sites. At 30 June 2006, US$1,273 million (2005: US$1,162 million), was provided for closed sites. The amounts provided in relation to closed sites are reviewed at least annually based upon the facts and circumstances available at the time and the
provisions are updated accordingly. Adjustments to the provisions in relation to these closed sites are recognised in profit and loss during the period in which the adjustments are made. In addition to the uncertainties associated with closure activity noted above, uncertainty remains over the extent and costs of the required short-term closure activities, the extent, cost and timing of post-closure monitoring and, in some cases, longer-term water management. Also, certain closure activities are subject to legal dispute and depending on the ultimate resolution of these matters, the final liability could vary. We believe that it is reasonably possible that, due to the nature of the closed site liabilities and the degree of uncertainty that surrounds them, these liabilities could be in the order of 25 per cent (2005: 30 per cent) greater or in the order of 20 per cent lower (2005: 20 per cent) than the US$1,273 million provided at year end. The main closed site to which this total amount relates is Southwest Copper in the US and this is described in further detail below, together with a brief description of other closed sites.
Southwest Copper, Arizona, (United States)
The Southwest Copper operations comprised several mining and smelting operations and associated facilities, much of which had been operating for many years prior to the Group acquiring the operations in 1996. In 1999, the facilities were effectively placed on a care and maintenance basis, pending evaluation of various alternative strategies to realise maximum value from the respective assets. We announced the closure of the San Manuel mining facilities and the San Manuel plant facilities in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
A comprehensive review of closure plans conducted at the Southwest Copper facilities in 2003-04 indicated: (a) higher short-term closure costs due to changes in the nature of closure work required in relation to certain facilities, particularly tailings dams and waste and leach dumps; (b) a need for costs, such as water management and environmental monitoring, to continue for a longer period; and, (c) an increase in the residual value of certain assets. The closure provisions for Southwest Copper, including amounts in relation to Pinal Creek litigation, total US$734 million at 30 June 2006 (US$731 million at 30 June 2005).
In relation to Pinal Creek, BHP Copper Inc (BHP Copper) is involved in litigation concerning groundwater contamination resulting from historic mining operations near the Pinal Creek/Miami Wash area located in the State of Arizona.
In 1994, Roy Wilkes and Diane Dunn initiated a toxic tort class action lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the District of Arizona. In September 2000, the Court approved a settlement reached between the parties for a non-material amount, and the terms of the settlement are now being implemented as a monitoring program.
A State consent decree (the Decree) was approved by the Federal District Court for the District of Arizona in August 1998. The Decree authorises and requires groundwater remediation and facility-specific source control activities, and the members of the Pinal Creek Group (which consists of BHP Copper, Phelps Dodge Miami Inc and Inspiration Consolidated Copper Co) are jointly liable for performing the non-facility specific source control activities. Such activities are currently ongoing. As of 30 June 2006, we have provided US$118 million (30 June 2005: US$110 million) for our anticipated share of the planned remediation work based on a range reasonably foreseeable up to US$138 million (30 June 2005: US$138 million), and we have paid out US$53 million up to 30 June 2006. These amounts are based on the provisional equal allocation of these costs among the three members of the Pinal Creek Group. BHP Copper is seeking a judicial restatement of the allocation formula to reduce its share based upon its belief, supported by relevant external legal and technical advice, that its property has contributed a smaller share of the contamination than the other parties properties. BHP Copper is contingently liable for the whole of these costs in the event that the other parties are unable to pay.
BHP Copper and the other members of the Pinal Creek Group filed a contribution action in November 1991 in the Federal District Court for the District of Arizona against former owners and operators of the properties alleged to have caused the contamination. As part of this action, BHP Copper is seeking contribution from its predecessors in interest with respect to BHP Coppers ultimate allocated share of costs based upon such predecessors proportionate contributions to the total contamination in the Pinal Creek drainage basin. Such action seeks recovery from these historical owners and operators for remediation and source control costs. BHP Coppers predecessors have asserted a counterclaim in this action seeking indemnity from BHP Copper based upon their interpretation of the historical transaction documents relating to the succession in interest of the parties. BHP Copper has also filed suit against a number of insurance carriers seeking to recover under various insurance policies for remediation, response, source control and other costs noted above incurred by BHP Copper.
Other closed sites
The closure provisions for other closed sites total US$539 million at 30 June 2006 (2005: US$431 million). The key sites covered by this amount are described briefly below.
Newcastle Steelworks (Australia) - we closed our Newcastle Steelworks in 1999 and retain responsibility for certain sediment in the Hunter River adjacent to the former steelworks site, together with certain other site remediation activities in the Newcastle area.
Base Metals has ongoing responsibility for the post-closure monitoring and maintenance of the Island Copper and Selbaie copper mines (Canada), and the long-term remediation costs for various mines and processing facilities in Canada and the US operated by Rio Algom Ltd prior to its acquisition by the former Billiton Plc in October 2000. In addition, closure and reclamation measures are being implemented at the former Carson Hill gold mine in California (US), an obligation resulting from the WMC acquisition in 2005.
Ingwe Collieries (South Africa) - we have responsibility for site reclamation and remediation activities, including the long-term management of water leaving mining properties, for closed mines within the Ingwe operations.
Roane Alloys (US) we ceased operations at Roane Alloys in 1982. A final remedial design for rehabilitation of the site has been submitted to the State of Tennessee for approval. We are currently in divestiture negotiations with a company that will rehabilitate to our design specifications.
Krugersdorp Manganese Metal Plant (South Africa) we suspended electrolytic manganese operations at our Krugersdorp Plant in February 2006, pending a decision on its future by the MMC Board.
DMS Powders (South Africa) we sold this operation, which is located on our Meyerton Industrial site, in March 2006 to the Siyanda Inkwali Company. We retain remediation and rehabilitation liabilities for the land on which the plant is located.
Boodarie Iron (Australia) in August 2005 we announced the permanent closure of the hot briquetted iron production facilities at our wholly-owned Boodarie Iron plant. Work has been completed to define the site closure requirements and mitigate the costs associated with the gas and power take-or-pay contracts. Demolition work is expected to commence in October 2006, with planned completion in June 2008. Site rehabilitation work will then commence.
During the year ended 30 June 2006, we employed, on average, 33,184 employees. A significant proportion of these employees, approximately 42.3 per cent, were employed in our Australian-based operations and approximately 29.8 per cent in southern Africa. Our operations in North and South America account for the majority of our remaining employees. Due to the transition to IFRS, we no longer proportionately consolidate our interest in certain jointly controlled entities, including Escondida. As a result, we no longer include employees of those entities in our employee figures. Employee numbers for 2005 have been restated on an equivalent basis.
Our human resources strategy emphasises a relationship with our employees that is based on shared accountability for achieving business and personal success. Our strategy supports the development of a high performance work culture and the values and business principles of our Charter (our Charter is a statement that outlines the Groups purpose, values and overall mission).
Our remuneration system places greater focus on at risk, performance-based pay for our senior and executive management. At our business units our remuneration system is being translated to apply to employees at other levels in the Company as appropriate. Our succession planning and talent management processes focus on attracting and retaining current and future world-class talent. Our relationship with labour focuses on win-win relationships and a high-performance organisation being created by continuous workplace reform in all of our businesses. We believe that generally our relations with our employees and labour unions representing our employees are good. However, we have experienced some industrial action during and immediately post 2005-06.
In 7 April 2006, the union representing 375 of the total 2,000 employees at EKATI made contract proposals that, if accepted, would have conflicted with EKATIs responsibilities with the Aboriginal Community and Northwest Territory. After we rejected the union proposals, the union called for strike action and 137 of the bargaining unit employees were flown off-site. An agreement to end the strike was ratified on 30 June 2006. The striking employees were rostered back in mid July to ensure a smooth transition into their shifts.
In 7 August 2006, the union representing 2,052 workers of the total 2,930 workforce at Escondida initiated a legal strike within the framework of the collective negotiation process. Despite the ongoing collective bargaining, we suspended operations as the health and safety of the people who work in the Company and the integrity of the facilities could not be guaranteed. An agreement was reached on 31 August 2006 that ended the strike.
The table below provides a breakdown of our average number of employees by category of activity for the past three financial years.
The table below provides a breakdown of our average number of employees by geographic location for the past three financial years.
The BHP Billiton Group consists of the BHP Billiton Limited Group and the BHP Billiton Plc Group as a combined enterprise following the completion of the DLC merger in June 2001. Refer to note 37 Subsidiaries in the financial statements for a list of BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc significant subsidiaries.
On 29 June 2001, BHP Billiton Limited (then known as BHP Limited) and BHP Billiton Plc (then known as Billiton Plc) merged by way of a Dual Listed Companies structure, or DLC. To effect the DLC, BHP Limited and Billiton Plc entered into certain contractual arrangements that are designed to place the shareholders of both Companies in a position where they effectively have an interest in a single group that combines the assets, and is subject to all the liabilities, of both Companies. BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc have each retained their separate corporate identities and maintained their separate stock exchange listings, but they are operated and managed as if they are a single unified entity, with their Boards and senior executive management comprising the same people.
BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc entered into various agreements to effect the DLC, including the:
In addition, BHP Billiton Limited adopted a new corporate Constitution and BHP Billiton Plc adopted a new Memorandum and Articles of Association.
The principles embodied in the Sharing Agreement are that:
Australian Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) conditions
The Treasurer of Australia approved the DLC merger subject to certain conditions, the effect of which was to require that BHP Billiton Limited continues to:
The conditions have effect indefinitely subject to amendment of the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 (Commonwealth) (Takeovers Act) or any revocation or amendment by the Treasurer. If BHP Billiton Limited wishes to act differently to the conditions, it must obtain the prior approval of the Treasurer. Failure to comply with the conditions attracts substantial penalties under the Act.
BHP Billiton Limited shareholders and BHP Billiton Plc shareholders have economic and voting interests in the combined BHP Billiton Group. The economic and voting interests represented by a share in one Company relative to the economic and voting interests of a share in the other Company is determined by reference to a ratio known as the Equalisation Ratio. Presently, the economic and voting interests attached to each BHP Billiton Limited share and each BHP Billiton Plc share are the same, since the Equalisation Ratio is 1:1. The Equalisation Ratio would change if either BHP Billiton Limited or BHP Billiton Plc returned value to only its shareholders and no matching action was taken.
This means that the amount of any cash dividend paid by BHP Billiton Limited in respect of each BHP Billiton Limited share is normally matched by an equivalent cash dividend by BHP Billiton Plc in respect of each BHP Billiton Plc share, and vice versa. If one Company has insufficient profits or is otherwise unable to pay the agreed dividend, BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc will, as far as practicable, enter into such transactions as are necessary so as to enable both Companies to pay the amount of pre-tax dividends per share.
Under the terms of the DLC agreements the BHP Billiton Limited Constitution and the BHP Billiton Plc Articles of Association special voting arrangements have been implemented so that the shareholders of both Companies vote together as a single decision-making body on matters affecting the shareholders of each Company in similar ways (such matters are referred to as Joint Electorate Actions). For so long as the Equalisation Ratio remains 1:1, each BHP Billiton Limited share will effectively have the same voting rights as each BHP Billiton Plc share on Joint Electorate Actions.
In the case of certain actions in relation to which the two bodies of shareholders may have divergent interests (referred to as Class Rights Actions), the Company wishing to carry out the Class Rights Action requires the prior approval of the shareholders in the other Company voting separately and, where appropriate, the approval of its own shareholders voting separately.
These voting arrangements are secured through the constitutional documents of the two Companies, the Sharing Agreement, the Special Voting Shares Deed and rights attaching to a specially created Special Voting Share issued by each Company and held in each case by a Special Voting Company. The shares in the Special Voting Companies are held legally and beneficially by Law Debenture Trust Corporation Plc.
BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc have each executed a Deed Poll Guarantee, pursuant to which creditors entitled to the benefit of the Deed Poll Guarantees will, to the extent possible, be placed in the same position as if the relevant debts were owed by both BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc combined.
The BHP Billiton Limited Constitution and the BHP Billiton Plc Articles of Association have been drafted to ensure that a person cannot gain control of one Company without having made an equivalent offer to the shareholders of both Companies on equivalent terms. Sanctions for breach of these provisions would include withholding of dividends, voting restrictions and the compulsory divestment of shares to the extent a shareholder and its associates exceed the relevant threshold.
Proved oil and gas reserves are the estimated quantities of crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids that geological and engineering data demonstrate with reasonable certainty to be recoverable in future years from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions (i.e. prices and costs as of the date the estimate is made). Proved developed oil and gas reserves are reserves that can be expected to be recovered through existing wells with existing equipment and operating methods.
Estimates of oil and gas reserves are inherently imprecise, require the application of judgement and are subject to future revision. Accordingly, financial and accounting measures (such as the standardised measure of discounted cash flows, depreciation, depletion and amortisation charges, the assessment of impairments and the assessment of valuation allowances against deferred tax assets) that are based on reserve estimates are also subject to change.
Proved reserves are estimated by reference to available seismic, well and reservoir information, including production and pressure trends for producing reservoirs and, in some cases, to similar data from other producing reservoirs in the immediate area. Proved reserves estimates are attributed to future development projects only where there is a significant commitment to project funding and execution and for which applicable governmental and regulatory approvals have been secured or are reasonably certain to be secured. Furthermore, estimates of proved reserves only include volumes for which access to market is assured with reasonable certainty. All proved reserve estimates are subject to revision, either upward or downward, based on new information such as from development drilling and production activities or from changes in economic factors, including product prices, contract terms or development plans. In certain deepwater Gulf of Mexico fields, proved reserves have been determined before production flow tests are conducted, in part because of the significant safety, cost and environmental implications of conducting those tests. In these fields other industry-accepted technologies have been used that are considered to provide reasonably certain estimates of productivity.
The tables below detail estimated oil, condensate, LPG and gas reserves at 30 June 2006, 30 June 2005 and 30 June 2004, with a reconciliation of the changes in each year. Reserves have been calculated using the economic interest method and represent our net interest volumes after deduction of applicable royalty, fuel and flare volumes. Our reserves include quantities of oil, condensate and LPG that will be produced under several production and risk sharing arrangements that involve the BHP Billiton Group in upstream risks and rewards without transfer of ownership of the products. At 30 June 2006, approximately 11 per cent (2005: 12 per cent; 2004: 17 per cent) of proved developed and undeveloped oil, condensate and LPG reserves and nil per cent (2005: nil per cent; 2004: nil per cent) of natural gas reserves are attributable to those arrangements. Reserves also include volumes calculated by probabilistic aggregation of certain fields that share common infrastructure. These aggregation procedures result in enterprise-wide proved reserves volumes, which may not be realised upon divestment on an individual property basis.
Proved developed and undeveloped oil, condensate and LPG reserves (a)
Proved developed and undeveloped natural gas reserves