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n a world where a disaster in the work place will spread across the stock exchange, internet and global news channels quicker than wild fire, it has never been more important to ensure mining operations are safe. BHP Billiton is leading the way with its most recent mining development combats many dangerous situations by putting digital connectivity at the forefront of its plans. Such technological introductions to its business will make its latest venture Australia’s most advanced mine. LEADING THE WAY A world-leading resources company, BHP Billiton (BHP) employs more than 62,000 members of staff and contractors. Whilst its work force is primarily in Australia and the Americas, its products are sold worldwide. The company’s global headquarters are in Melbourne, Australia. It operates under a Dual Listed Company structure with two parent companies, BHP Group Limited and BHP Group Plc. However, its organisationally managed by a unified Board and management and operates as a single economic entity, referred to as BHP. MODEST MINING TO MARKET LEADING From two small mining companies founded in the mid-1800s, BHP is now a world leader in the diversified resources industry. Formed from a merger between BHP and Billiton in 2001, the company values its heritage and the strong foundations on which it is built. These days, it is among the world’s top producers of major commodities

such as iron ore, metallurgical coal and copper. The company also has substantial interests in oil, gas and energy coal. BHP has certainly come a long way from its humble beginnings, but it remains an Australian focused organisation with worldwide reach. Today, its corporate purpose is to create long-term shareholder value through the discovery, acquisition,

development and marketing of natural resources. BHP does so by following its effective strategy: to own and operate large, long-life, low-cost, expandable, upstream assets diversified by commodity, geography and market. Which is far easier to say than do yet BHP seem to have mastered it. BHP is demonstrating this by leading the way with its recent investment,

South Flank. One of many of its projects, it is particularly gaining attention by pledging to set new standards as it paves the way for the future of the resources industry. SOUTH FLANK IRON ORE In June 2018, the BHP Board approved US$2.9 billion (BHP share; US$3.4 billion 100%) in capital expenditure for the South

Flank project in the central Pilbara, Western Australia. Fully replacing the production from the Yandi mine, the South Flank project expands the existing infrastructure of the Minerals Australia Mining Area C. Following the announcement, BHP set to work on construction of an 80 Mtpa crushing and screening plant, an overland conveyor system, stockyard and train loading facilities, procurement of new mining fleet and substantial mine development and pre-strip work. “The project will create around 2,500 construction jobs, more than 500 ongoing operational roles and generate many opportunities for Western Australian

suppliers”. Mike Henry, BHP President Operations, Minerals Australia, confirmed during the investment announcement. It is anticipated that South Flank will be one of the world’s largest iron ore operations and will integrate the latest technology. Autonomous-ready fleets, digital connectivity and its modular design will make Mining Area C one of Australia’s most advanced mines. Designed down to the smallest detail, South Flank’s future focused modular design makes it safer and easier to operate and maintain. The first ore from South Flank is forecasted for the 2021 calendar year, with the project expected to produce ore for

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more than 25 years. South Flank iron ore will contribute to an increase in Western Australia Iron Ore’s average iron grade from 61% to 62% with the overall proportion of lump from 25% to approximately 35%. FIRST BLAST FIRED In September 2018, the first blast was fired at BHP’s South Flank project, representing the next major step in the development of the US$3.6 billion mine site in the Pilbara. The blast signified the start of mining development. Following the first blast, it was estimated that about 8.9 million tonnes of material would be moved ahead of the first concrete pour in early 2019 for the 40Mtpa

Primary Crusher 1. Following that first blast, the South Flank teams constructed road networks to enable the early mining activity and construction access ahead of the build of Primary Crusher 1. This project is not just technologically advanced but economically beneficial too. It is predicted that 9,000 people will be employed as part of the South Flank work force over the life of the project. BHP also anticipates that approximately 85% of the US$3.6 billion project will be awarded to companies based in Australia, of which the majority (as much as 90%) will go to companies based in Western Australia.

UNEARTHING SUCCESS South Flank, part of Mining Area C forms just one part of BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) division which is integrated system of four processing hubs and five mines, it is connected by more than 1,000km of rail infrastructure and port facilities. Having achieved record production in

FY2018, supported by record production at Jimblebar and Mining Area C, WAIO is set to further benefit when South Flank becomes operational. With its Jimblebar truck fleet also becoming fully autonomous in 2017 and South Flank following its lead through further technological advancements, it’s clear that BHP is set to continue unearthing success.

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