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President of BHP Billiton’s global Coal business, Dean Dalla Valle, today spoke at CEDA’s Energy and Resources series in Brisbane about the global outlook for coal. 

In his first keynote address, Mr Dalla Valle outlined the importance of productivity and a high-performing culture to ensure a long-term sustainable coal export industry in Australia.

“BHP Billiton’s Coal business includes 20 metallurgical and energy coal operations across five countries. In the 2013 financial year we produced 154 million tonnes on a 100 per cent basis,” he said.

“We are the largest coal miner in Queensland and a major contributor to the Queensland economy, directly injecting more than US$10 billion into the economy and employing more than 7,000 people at our Bowen Basin operations.”

Speaking to the challenges of the industry, Mr Dalla Valle emphasised the importance of reducing costs and maximising productivity.

“Our business has the equipment, technology, infrastructure and expertise to operate our mines more safely and efficiently than ever before,” he said.

“Over the past 18 months we have focused on our cost base throughout our operations.  There is still more we need to do as we look for ways to improve the productivity and competitiveness of our mines.”

Mr Dalla Valle said BHP Billiton expected global growth in demand for both energy and metallurgical coal over the coming decades, with productivity key to generating acceptable returns.

He said BHP Billiton’s investment in common processes and systems gave the Company a comparative advantage to replicate best practice across the Group.

“For example, I can compare the productivity of a truck and shovel fleet at one of our mines in South Africa against a similar truck and shovel fleet at one of our mines in the Bowen Basin.

“We are also looking to work smarter as we deliver long-term productivity gains.  To do this we need high performing teams and to ensure our people have the opportunities to develop their careers through mobility in the industry.”

Mr Dalla Valle referenced the Company’s new commute workforce at Daunia Mine as an example of a new operation where a great culture is being built to help deliver productivity gains.

“What is evident when you go to Daunia is that when you bring a diverse, enthusiastic group of new people to our industry and blend them with experienced miners and the right training and supervision, a new culture develops.

“It also helps us increase our diversity as we re-shape our workforce, strive to better reflect the make-up of our society and spread the benefits of mining across Queensland.”

Comments made in March by BHP Billiton’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Mackenzie, about the important social and economic contribution coal makes were also reiterated by Mr Dalla Valle.

Mr Dalla Valle will also be speaking at the CEDA lunch in Sydney on Friday.

Please see the news release and speech.

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