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Number 12/08

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has issued assessments and is in dispute with BHP Billiton Limited (BHP Billiton) in respect of the 2001 to 2003 income years. BHP Billiton maintains that it is entitled to the tax relief claimed.

The dispute is in respect of payments made pursuant to a plant completion guarantee which had been granted by BHP in 1997 to third party financiers of the Orinoco Project in Venezuela.

The dispute involves primary tax and interest (net of tax) of US$289.6 million (A$316.9 million). The ATO is still considering whether or not to apply any penalty.

The Company is confident of its position. It intends to vigorously defend the assessment.

The outcome of this dispute is unlikely to be known for some time. In the meantime BHP Billiton believes that the matter is adequately provided for in the accounts.

For further information please contact:

Australia
Samantha Evans, Media Relations
Tel: +61 3 9609 2898  Mobile: +61 400 693 915
email: Samantha.Evans@bhpbilliton.com

Don Carroll, Investor Relations
Tel: +61 3 9609 2686  Mobile: +61 417 591 938
email: Don.A.Carroll@bhpbilliton.com

United Kingdom
Andre Liebenberg, Investor Relations
Tel: +44 20 7802 4131  Mobile: +44 7920 236 974
email: Andre.Liebenberg@bhpbilliton.com

Illtud Harri, Media Relations
Tel: +44 20 7802 4195  Mobile: +44 7920 237 246
email: Illtud.Harri@bhpbilliton.com

United States
Tracey Whitehead, Investor & Media Relations
Tel: US +1 713 599 6100 or UK +44 20 7802 4031
Mobile: +44 7917 648 093
email: Tracey.Whitehead@bhpbilliton.com

South Africa 
Alison Gilbert, Investor Relations
Tel: SA +27 11 376 2121 or UK +44 20 7802 4183
Mobile: +44 7769 936 227
email: Alison.Gilbert@bhpbilliton.com

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