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Jul 12, 2007

BHP Billiton management team beginning to take shape

Marius Kloppers’ new team at BHP Billiton is taking shape with the diversified miner clearly alluding to the importance of the Olympic Dam and its huge uranium deposits by creating a new Customer Service Group.


Marius Kloppers’ new team at BHP Billiton is taking shape. One of the big movers is Marcus Randolph, with the American assuming the newly created role of Chief Executive Ferrous and Coal.

The highly regarded Randolph who previously worked at Rio Tinto and Asarco commenced at BHP in 1999 as Chief Strategic and Development Officer and was later appointed President of Diamonds and Specialty Products. Ferrous and Coal products (which include iron ore, manganese and coal) account for around 33% of BHP’s revenue.

Former Governance Office and Company Secretary Karen Wood will head up HR as Chief People Officer. A former lawyer and general counsel at Bonlac, Wood also serves on the Takeovers Panel.

Diamonds boss, Alberto Calderon joins the Office of the Chief Executive (soon to be renamed Group Management Committee), as Chief Commercial Officer. Alex Vanselow remains CFO while Mike Yeager will continue in his role as Petroleum chief.

BHP has yet to announce an appointment for the role of Chief Executive (Non Ferrous) when Kloppers vacates the post on 1 October 2007 to become CEO. Non-ferrous minerals, which, include aluminum, base metals (such as copper), diamonds and stainless steel materials, make just over half of BHP’s sales.

The diversified miner also alluded to the importance of the Olympic Dam and its huge uranium deposits, creating a new Customer Service Group entitled Uranium and Olympic Dam Development (splitting it from the Base Metals Group). The Group will be headed up by current Aluminum chief, Graeme Hunt.

BHP stated that under the move, the “existing Olympic Dam operations as well as the expansion [of the Olympic Dam] project will be separated from base metals [customer sector group].” Hunt, who joined BHP as an 18-year-old in 1975 was previously President of BHP’s iron ore division (which, like Olympic Dam, are open pit mines).

BHP’s acquisition of WMC for $9.2 billion (and with it, the Olympic Dam) gave it ownership of what is believed to be the world’s largest uranium ore body (it is estimated to contain 35-40% of the world’s uranium reserves). The June 2005 acquisition was perfectly timed, with the uranium price rising from approximately 30US$/lb to now be 133US$/lb.

BHP is spending more than $6 billion expanding Olympic Dam which is expected to produce 40 million tones of ore each year. Operation at the expanded Olympic Dam is slated to commence ramp-up by 2013.

Disclosure: The writer owns BHP shares.


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