May 14, 2013 / 7:30 AM / in 5 years

RPT-BHP says 2014 capex to fall to $18 bln, set to drop further

SYDNEY, May 14 (Reuters) - BHP Billiton said on Tuesday that its capital and exploration expenditure next year would fall to around $18 billion, down about a fifth from $22 billion estimated in the 2013 financial year, with further drops expected.

The world’s biggest miner must increase returns from new investment as well as squeezing returns from installed infrastructure, Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie in a statement ahead of a conference in Barcelona.

“In this regard, capital and exploration expenditure for the 2014 financial year will decline significantly, to approximately $18 billion, and the rate of spend is expected to decline substantially thereafter,” said Mackenzie in his first major announcment since taking up the role on May 10.

Mackenzie has previously said there would be no major change in the miner’s strategy but alongside other rivals has pledged to focus on slashing costs, improving operations and boosting returns as miners grapple with slower growth in China and volatile commodities prices.

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