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Traded as LSEBLT
FTSE 100 Component
Industry Metals and Mining
Founded Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited (BHP) 1885;
Billiton plc 1860;
Merger of BHP & Billiton 2001 (creation of a DLC)
Headquarters Melbourne, Australia
(BHP Billiton Group & BHP Billiton Limited)
London, United Kingdom
(BHP Billiton plc)[1]
Area served
Key people
Ken MacKenzie (Chairman)
Andrew Mackenzie (CEO)
Products Iron ore, coal, petroleum, copper, natural gas, nickel & uranium
Revenue A$30.9 billion (2016)[2]
US$6.2 billion (2016)[2]
Profit US$6.2 billion (2016)[2]
Number of employees
65,000 (2017)[3]
The former BHP Billiton logo

BHP, the trading entity of BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc and formerly known as BHP Billiton, is an Anglo-Australian multinational mining, metals and petroleum dual-listed public company headquartered in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Founded in 1885 in the isolated mining town of Broken Hill, it was the world's largest mining company measured by 2015 market values and Australia's fourth-largest company (by revenue).

BHP Billiton was formed in 2001 through the merger of the Australian Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited (BHP) and the Anglo–Dutch Billiton plc.[4] The result is a dual-listed company. The Australia-registered Limited has a primary listing on the Australian Securities Exchange and is one of the largest companies in Australia measured by market capitalisation. The English-registered Plc arm has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

In 2017, with most of the former Billiton assets having been spun out into South32, BHP Billiton rebranded itself back to BHP.

BHP's global headquarters and Australian registered corporate office is located at 171 Collins Street, Melbourne Australia.



The former Billiton logo

Billiton was a mining company whose origins stretch back to 29 September 1860, when the articles of association were approved by a meeting of shareholders in the Groot Keizerhof hotel in The Hague, the Netherlands.[5]

Two months later, the company acquired the mineral rights to the tin-rich Billiton (Belitung) and Bangka Islands in the Netherlands Indies archipelago, off the eastern coast of Sumatra.[5]

Billiton's initial business forays included tin and lead smelting in the Netherlands, followed in the 1940s by bauxite mining in Indonesia and Suriname. In 1970, Shell acquired Billiton accelerated this growth.[5] The tin and lead smelter in Arnhem, the Netherlands, was shut down in the 1990s. Billiton owned a tin smelting and refining plant in Phuket, Thailand called Thaisarco (short for Thailand Smelting And Refining Company, Limited), which still exists today.[6]

In 1994, South Africa's Gencor Ltd. acquired the mining division of Billiton excluding the downstream metal division.[7] Billiton was divested from Gencor in 1997.[8]

In 1997, Billiton plc became a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.[5] Throughout the 1990s and beyond, Billiton plc experienced considerable growth. Its portfolio included aluminium smelters in South Africa and Mozambique, nickel operations in Australia and Colombia, base metals mines in South America, Canada and South Africa, coal mines in Australia, Colombia and South Africa, as well as interests in operations in Brazil, Suriname, Australia (aluminium) and South Africa (titanium minerals and steel and ferroalloys).

In 2001 Billiton plc merged with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited (BHP) to form BHP Billiton.[4]

In 2015, BHP Billiton spun off a number of its subsidiaries[9] in South Africa and Southern Africa to form a new company known as South32.[10][11]

In August 2016, the company recorded its worst annual loss in history, $6.4 billion.[12]

Towards the end of 2016 BHP indicated it would be expanding its petroleum business with new investments in the sector.[13]

Broken Hill Proprietary Company[edit]

The former Broken Hill Proprietary Company logo

The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited (BHP) also known by the nickname "the Big Australian",[14] was incorporated in 1885, operating the silver and lead mine at Broken Hill in western New South Wales, Australia.[15][16] The Broken Hill group floated on 10 August 1885.[17] The first consignment of Broken Hill ore (48 tons, 5 cwt, 3grs) was smelted at the Intercolonial Smelting and Refining Company's works at Spotswood, Melbourne.[17]

The resulting 35,605 ounces of silver raised a lot of interest when exhibited at the City of Melbourne Bank in Collins St. Some sceptics asserted the promoters were merely using silver from somewhere else, to ramp up the shares...Another shareholder, the dominating W.R. Wilson had had to lend [William Jamieson, General Manager] a new suit so he could take the first prospectus, printed at Silverton near Broken Hill on 20 June 1885, to Adelaide to start the float process.[17]

The geographic Broken Hill, for which the town was named, was discovered and named by Charles Sturt, and created much interest among prospectors, but nothing of note was discovered until Charles Rasp, boundary rider for the encompassing Mount Gipps Station, pegged out a 40-acre claim with contractors David James and James Poole, then with half-a-dozen backers (the Syndicate of Seven) including station manager George McCulloch (a young cousin of Victorian Premier Sir James McCulloch[18]) formed the Broken Hill Company to stake out the whole Hill. In the ensuing months of fruitless search and with costs mounting, several of the original seven parted with their shares, and at the eve of the Company's great success there were nine shareholders, including Rasp, McCulloch, William Jamieson (who bought up shares from several of the founders), Philip Charley, David James, James Poole, Bowes Kelly and W. R. Wilson.[19]

John Darling, Jr. became a director of the company in 1892 and was chairman of directors from 1907 to 1914.[20]

In 1915, the company ventured into steel manufacturing, with its operations based primarily in Newcastle, New South Wales. The decision to move from mining ore at Broken Hill to open a steelworks at Newcastle was due to the technical limitations in recovering value from mining the 'lower-lying sulphide ores'.[21] The discovery of Iron Knob and Iron Monarch near the western shore of the Spencer Gulf in South Australia combined with the development by the BHP metallurgist A. D. Carmichael of a technique for 'separating zinc sulphides from the accompanying earth and rock' led BHP 'to implement the startlingly simple and cheap process for liberating vast amounts of valuable metals out of sulphide ores, including huge heaps of tailings and slimes up to' 40 ft (12 m) high.[22]

The company began petroleum exploration in the 1960s with discoveries in Bass Strait, an activity which became an increasing focus.[23]

BHP began to diversify offshore in a variety of projects. One project was the Ok Tedi copper mine in Papua New Guinea, where the company was successfully sued by the indigenous inhabitants because of the environmental degradation caused by the mine operations.[24] BHP had better success with the giant Escondida copper mine in Chile (57.5 per cent owned) and the EKATI Diamond Mine in northern Canada.[25] which it divested in 2013 to Dominion Diamond Corporation (formerly Harry Winston Diamond Corporation).[26]

The inefficiencies of what was, by global standards, a small steel operation in Newcastle finally caught up with the company and the Newcastle operations were closed in 1999.[27] The 'long products' side of the steel business was spun off to form OneSteel in 2000.[28]

BHP Billiton[edit]

Diesel locomotives in BHP Billiton Iron Ore "bubble" livery, at the company's Nelson Point Yard, Port Hedland, Western Australia.

In 2001, BHP merged with the Billiton mining company to form BHP Billiton. In 2002, the 'flat products' steel business was spun off to form BHP Steel. In 2003, BHP Steel changed its name to BlueScope Steel.[29]

In March 2005, BHP Billiton announced a US$7.3 billion agreed bid for another mining company, WMC Resources, owners of the Olympic Dam copper, gold and uranium mine in South Australia, nickel operations in Western Australia and Queensland, and a fertiliser plant also in Queensland. The takeover achieved 90 per cent acceptance on 17 June 2005, and 100 per cent ownership was announced on 2 August 2005, achieved through compulsory acquisition of the last 10 per cent of the shares.[30]

On 8 November 2007, BHP Billiton announced it was seeking to purchase rival mining group Rio Tinto Group in an all-share deal. The initial offer of 3.4 shares of BHP Billiton stock for each share of Rio Tinto was rejected by the board of Rio Tinto for "significantly undervaluing" the company. It was unknown at the time whether BHP Billiton would attempt to purchase Rio Tinto through some form of hostile takeover;[31] however, CEO Marius Kloppers met with many of Rio's shareholders following the announcement and reiterated that the offer for Rio was "compelling" and that BHP Billiton is very "patient".[32] A formal hostile bid of 3.4 BHP Billiton shares for each Rio Tinto share was announced on 6 February 2008.[33] The bid was withdrawn on 25 November 2008 due to a global recession.[34]

On 14 May 2008, BHP Billiton shares rose to a record high of A$48.90 after speculation that Chinese mining firm Chinalco was considering purchasing a large stake. BHP Billiton representatives had no comment.[35]

On 25 November 2008, Billiton announced that it would drop its A$66 billion takeover of rival Rio Tinto Group saying that the "risks to shareholder value" would "increase" to "an unacceptable level" due to the global financial crisis.[36]

On 21 January 2009, the company announced that in response to the global financial crisis the BHP Billiton Ravensthorpe Nickel Project in Western Australia would cease operations, with a resultant discontinuation of shipments of ore from Ravensthorpe to the Yabulu nickel plant in Queensland Australia.[37] Subsequently, the Yabulu refinery was sold to Queensland billionaire Mr Clive Palmer. Additionally, the Pinto Valley mine in the United States was closed. In total, 6,000 employees were laid off, including those laid off with the scaling back at some other projects.[38]

On 9 December 2009, BHP Billiton sold its Ravensthorpe Nickel Mine, which cost A$2.4 billion to build, to Vancouver-based First Quantum Minerals for US$340 million. First Quantum was one of three bidders for the mine and actually produced the lowest offer. The Canadian company plans to have the mine back in production in mid-2011. Ravensthorpe cost BHP US$3.6 billion in writedowns when it was shut in January 2009 after less than a year of production.[39]

In January 2010, after BHP Billiton bought Athabasca Potash for US$320m, The Economist reported that by 2020, BHP Billiton could produce approximately 15 per cent of the world demand for potash.[40]

In August 2010, BHP Billiton made a hostile takeover bid worth US$40 billion for the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. The bid came after BHP's first bid, made on 17 August, was rejected as being undervalued.[41] This acquisition marked a major strategic move by BHP outside hard commodities and commenced the diversification of its business away from resources with high exposure to carbon price risk (coal, petroleum, iron ore). The takeover bid was opposed by the Government of Saskatchewan under Premier Brad Wall. On 3 November, Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement announced the preliminary rejection of the deal under the Investment Canada Act, giving BHP Billiton 30 days to refine their deal before a final decision was made.[42]

On 14 November 2010, the company announced that it was dropping its offer for Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.[43]

On 22 February 2011 BHP announced that it paid $4.75 billion in cash to Chesapeake Energy Corp for all of the company's Fayetteville shale assets which include 487,000 acres (1,970 km2) of mineral rights leases and 420 miles (680 km) of pipeline located in north central Arkansas in the United States. The wells on the mineral leases are currently producing about 415 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. BHP plans to spend $800 million to $1 billion a year over 10 years to develop the field and triple production.[44]

On 14 July 2011, BHP Billiton announced that it would acquire Petrohawk Energy of the United States for approximately $12.1 billion in cash, considerably expanding its shale natural gas resources[45] in an offer of $US38.75 per share.[46]

In August 2012, BHP Billiton announced that it was shelving its US$20 billion (£12 billion) Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine expansion project in South Australia, as a result of falling commodity prices and slowing global economic growth.[47][48] The company simultaneously announced a freeze on approving any major new expansion projects.[47][48]

Days after announcing the Olympic Dam pull-out, BHP announced that it was selling its Yeelirrie Uranium Project to Canadian Cameco for a fee of around $430 million. The sale was part of a broader move to step away from resource expansion in Australia.[49]

On 19 August 2014, BHP Billiton announced it would create an independent global metals and mining company based on a selection of its aluminium, coal, manganese, nickel and silver assets.[50] The newly formed entity, named South32, was subsequently demerged with listings on the Australian Securities Exchange the JSE and the London Stock Exchange.[50]

BHP Billiton agreed to pay a fine of $25 million to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in 2015 in connection with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act related to its "hospitality program" at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. BHP Billiton invited 176 government and state-owned-enterprise officials to attend the Games on an all-expenses-paid package. While BHP Billiton claimed to have compliance processes in place to avoid conflicts of interest, the SEC found that BHP Billiton had invited officials from at least four countries where BHP Billiton had interests in influencing the officials' decisions (Congo, Guinea, Philippines and Burundi).[51]

In February 2017, BHP Billiton announced a $2.2 billion investment in the new BP platform in the Gulf of Mexico.[52] During the same year, as part of their plan to increase productivity at the Escondida mine in Chile,[53] which is the world's biggest copper mine, BHP Billiton attempted to get workers to accept a 4-year pay freeze, a 66% reduction in the end-of-conflict bonus offering, and increased shift flexibility. This resulted in a major workers' strike and forced the company to declare ‘force majeure’ on two shipments, which drove copper prices up by 4%.[54]

In April 2017 activist hedge fund manager Elliott Advisors proposed a plan for BHP to spin off its American petroleum assets and significantly restructure the business, including the scrapping of its dual Sydney-London listing, suggesting shares be offered only in the United Kingdom, while leaving its headquarters and tax residences in Australia where shares would trade as depository instruments. At the time of the correspondence Elliott held about 4.1 per cent of the issued shares in London-listed BHP Billiton plc, worth $3.81 billion. Australia's government warned it would block moves to shift BHP's stock listing from Australia to the United Kingdom. Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison said the move would be contrary to the country's national interest and would breach government orders mandating a listing on the Australian Securities Exchange. BHP dismissed the plan saying the costs and risks of Elliott's proposal outweighed any potential benefits.[55]


In May 2017, with much of the former Billiton assets having been disposed of, BHP Billiton began to rebrand itself as BHP, at first in Australia and then globally. It replaced the slogan "The Big Australian" with "Think Big", with an advertising campaign rolling out in mid May 2017.[56] Work on the change began in 2015 according to BHP's chief external affairs officer.[57]

In August 2017, BHP announced that it would sell off its US shale oil and gas business.[58][59]

Corporate affairs[edit]

The Australian BHP Billiton Limited and the British BHP Billiton plc are separately listed with separate shareholder bodies, but they operate as one business with identical boards of directors and a single management structure. The global headquarters of the BHP Billiton Group & BHP Billiton Limited (Australia) are located in Melbourne, Australia. BHP Billiton plc is located in London, England.[1] BHP Billiton also has offices in Houston, USA, Santiago, Perth, Brisbane, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Shanghai.

The company's shares trade on the following exchanges:[60]

Senior management[edit]

In 1998, BHP hired an American, Paul Anderson, to reconstruct the company. Anderson was successful in this and completed his four-year stint with a merger between BHP and London-based Billiton. The CEO position was passed to Brian Gilbertson of Billiton but in 2003, after just six months in the CEO role, Gilbertson abruptly stepped down and cited irreconcilable differences with the boards as the reason for his resignation.[61]

Upon Gilbertson's departure, Chip Goodyear, an Anderson protégé, was appointed the new CEO and he continued in that role until his retirement on 30 September 2007, with the stock price over $80 per share. Marius Kloppers was Goodyear's successor.[62] Following the end of Kloppers' tenure in 2013, Andrew Mackenzie, the Chief Executive of Non-Ferrous, assumed the role of CEO. In response to investor demands and a diminishing mining boom, BHP Billiton announced in mid-April 2013 that Mackenzie's remuneration package would be 25 per cent less than that of Kloppers—Barry Fitzgerald, writing for The Australian, stated that the decision represented the introduction of a "new era of austerity" for the corporation.[63]



BHP operates a wide variety of mining, processing and oil and gas production operations in over 25 countries,[64] employing approximately 41,000 people.

The company has four primary operational units, with an optional fifth operational unit, referred to as Businesses:

At the end of fiscal year 2015, BHP Billiton, produced more than 256 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMboe), 1.7 million tonnes (Mt) of copper, 233 Mt of iron ore, 43 Mt of metallurgical coal and 41 Mt of energy coal.

In addition it has subsidiary logistics companies BHP Transport and Logistics Pty Ltd (incorporating the former BHP Shipping) and BHPB Freight Pty Ltd.

Mines and facilities[edit]

Drill rig at Area C mine, near Newman, Western Australia.
Process facility at Mount Whaleback mine, Western Australia.
False colour satellite image of Escondida mine, Chile, courtesy of NASA.


The United Nations Environment Programme has noted that BHP’s Ok Tedi mine site’s "uncontrolled discharge of 70 million tonnes of waste rock and mine tailings annually has spread more than 10 km (6.2 mi) down the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers, raising river beds and causing flooding, sediment deposition, forest damage, and a serious decline in the area's biodiversity."[67] The resulting devastation caused by the mining of Ok Tedi has included the loss of fish, a vital food source for the local community; loss of forest and crops due to flooding; and the loss of "areas of deep spiritual value for villagers are now submerged in mine tailings."[68]

Social and environmental responsibility[edit]

A village flooded in the Bento Rodrigues dam disaster (2015). The dam was a property of Samarco, a joint venture between Vale and BHP Billiton.

BHP Billiton is listed as one of the 90 companies extracting and marketing fossil fuels that are responsible for two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions since the beginning of the industrial age.[69] Its cumulative emissions until 2010 have been estimated at 7,606 MtCO2e, representing 0.52% of global industrial emissions between 1751 and 2010, and ranking it the 19th-largest corporate polluter.[70] According to BHP Billiton management 10% of these emissions are from direct operations, while 90% are from products sold by the company.[71] BHP Billiton has been voluntarily reporting its direct GHG emissions since 1996. In 2013 it was criticised for lobbying against carbon pricing in Australia.[72]

BHP Billiton voluntarily donates one per cent of pre-tax profit, calculated on the average of the previous three years’ pre-tax profit, in community programs[73] and made US$241.7 million of community donations including a US$100 million contribution to BHP Billiton corporate charitable entities.[74] BHP Billiton is a founding partner and co-funder (with the Australian Government) of Bush Blitz, operated by Australian Biological Resources Study with Earthwatch Australia.[75]

Significant accidents[edit]

Inclement weather caused a BHP Billiton helicopter to crash in Angola on 16 November 2007, killing the helicopter's five passengers. The dead were: BHP Billiton Angola Chief Operating Officer David Hopgood, Australian; Angola Technical Services Operations Manager Kevin Ayre, British; Wild Dog Helicopters pilot Kottie Breedt, South African; Guy Sommerfield of MMC, British; and Louwrens Prinsloo of Prinsloo Drilling, Namibian. The helicopter went down approximately 80 kilometres (50 mi) from Alto Cuilo exploration facility in north eastern Angola. BHP Billiton responded by suspending operations in the country.[76]

On 5 November 2015 a dam holding back waste water from an iron ore mine in Mariana, south-eastern Brazil, owned by BHP Billiton and Vale collapsed, devastating a nearby town with mudslides, killing at least 17 people, injuring more than 50 and causing enormous ecological damage,[77] and threatening life along the river Rio Doce and the Atlantic sea near the mouth of the Rio Doce.[78] The accident was the biggest environmental disaster in Brazil's history.[79]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Our Structure". BHP Billiton. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
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  5. ^ a b c d "Billiton History". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
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  18. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  19. ^ "Treasure Hill on Sheep Station". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 2 September 1937. p. 8. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
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  39. ^ Canada's First Quantum wins bid to revive Ravensthorpe nickel mine The Australian, published: 10 December 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2009
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  45. ^ "BHP Billiton to Buy Petrohawk for $12.1 Billion" (Press release). Dealbook. 14 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2010. 
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  48. ^ a b "BHP Billiton scraps $20bn Olympic Dam project as China slowdown bites". The Guardian. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  49. ^ BHP sells Australia’s mammoth uranium deposit, International:, 2012, retrieved 11 October 2012 
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  59. ^ Denina, Clara; Afanasieva, Dasha (31 August 2017). "BHP hires Barclays, Citi for U.S. shale gas divestment: sources". Reuters. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
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  63. ^ Barry Fitzgerald (19 April 2013). "BHP ushers in austerity era, starting with 25pc pay cut for new boss". The Australian. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  64. ^ "BHP Billiton - Jobs". Retrieved 19 March 2016. 
  65. ^ "Rompimento de barragens causa "maior dano ambiental da história de Minas", diz promotor" [The collapse of the Samaco's dams has caused the "largest environmental disaster in the history of Minas Gerais", says public prosecutor] (in Portuguese). Record. 2015-11-05. Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
  66. ^ Shasta Darlington (2015-11-07). "Dam break sweeps away homes in Brazil, killing at least 1 person". CNN. Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
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  68. ^ "Australian Conservation Foundation, Leaving the scene of the mine". Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  69. ^ Goldenberg, Suzanne: "Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions" in The Guardian, 21 November 2013
  70. ^ Heede, Richard: "Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854–2010", in Climatic Change, January 2014, Volume 122, Issue 1-2, pp.229-241
  71. ^ Hannam, Peter: "BHP among world's 20 largest climate culprits", in The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 November 2013
  72. ^ Mehra, Malini: "BHP Billiton: climate change leader or laggard?" in The Guardian, 20 November 2013
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External links[edit]