BHP Billiton to sell South Africas optimum coal mine

BHP Billiton to sell South Africas optimum coal mine

A spokeswoman for BHP confirmed the miner has decided to divest the mine and plans to complete the sale before the end of calendar 2007.

BHP said the decision has been made after a review of the company’s energy coal business and talks are underway with several potential buyers.

The mine, 50 kilometers southeast of Middleburg, sells about half of its production to South African utility Eskom.

Earlier this year BHP held talks with Eskom over selling more of Optimum’s output to the utility but no agreement was reached.

“Our timeframes didn’t align so following the appraisal energy coal decided to divest and explore different alternatives,” BHP spokeswoman Emma Meade said.

In 2005/06 Optimum exported 5.7 million metric tons of coal and sold a further six million tons to Eskom.

There have been market rumors that BHP is planning to sell its entire Ingwe group of coal mines in South Africa, but Meade said this was incorrect.
“Ingwe is not for sale,” she said.

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