* $3 bln expansion of Australian plant completed last year
* Boosted alumina refinery capacity to 4.6 mln tonnes a year
* Took $2.2 billion writedown on Worsley in 2012
By Silvia Antonioli
LONDON, May 27 BHP Billiton , the
world's largest diversified mining company, may cut jobs at its
Worsley Alumina operations in Australia after completing a
review of the business, the company said on Tuesday.
The review follows last year's completion of a $3 billion
expansion of the site that former CEO Marius Kloppers was
reported to have described as the biggest mistake of his
A weakening of alumina prices was among the factors that
forced BHP to book a $2.2 billion gross impairment against
Worsley in the the six months to December 2012 and the group has
earmarked its aluminium division among its non-core businesses
and said it would consider options such as the sale or a
spin-off of unwanted assets into a separate
"With no new projects planned for the next five years, the
organisational structure of Worsley is under review. This
includes reviewing the nature and number of roles needed to
support safe and efficient production and ensure Worsley has a
sustainable future," a BHP Billiton spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
"We don't intend to provide any detail about specific
adjustments, but clearly there may be some impact on jobs in
some areas. The review is ongoing and no operational disruptions
Worsley Alumina includes two assets: a bauxite mine and an
alumina refinery. The bauxite and alumina produced there are
exported to clients including to BHP's own aluminium smelters in
South Africa and Mozambique.
BHP said it does not disclose staff numbers by asset but
Australian media said that Worsley employs more than 1,200
people directly and indirectly.
The expansion completed last year boosted the Worsley
refinery capacity by 1.1 million tonnes to 4.6 million tonnes a
year of smelter-grade alumina.
BHP owns an 86 percent stake in Worsley Alumina, with joint
venture partners Japan Alumina Associates and Sojitz Alumina
owning 10 percent and 4 percent respectively.
(Editing by David Goodman)