BHP Billiton's Coking Coal Production Costs Spark a Change, LME Steel Price Drops

World’s biggest miner BHP is looking for some cost savings (welcome to the club!).

Via the Sydney Morning Herald: “BHP Billiton has confirmed another change of contractor within its Queensland coal division, as the profitability of the sector comes under scrutiny this week. HSE Contractors will take over from Thiess on July 1 at the South Walker Creek mine, which BHP owns in partnership with Japanese company Mitsui.

“The deal continues a trend for mining companies to change contractors in a bid to save money, and has not previously been publicised despite the deal being settled more than a month ago…BHP’s Australian coal division is struggling under high wages and low productivity, with several mines considered to be marginal…a recent [Deutsche] research note [stated] the average unit cost at BHP’s Australian coking coalmines had soared from about $US44 a tonne in 2005 to $US161 a tonne this year.”

Current Steel, Coking Coal, Iron Ore Prices:

On the MetalMiner IndX℠, the steel billet 3-month price experienced the biggest price decline of the day, dropping 6.2 percent on the LME to close at $150.00 per metric ton on Monday, May 27. Also on the LME, the steel billet cash price held steady around $125.00 per metric ton.

today's metal prices - MetalMiner IndXChinese steel prices closed flat for the day. The price of iron ore 58% fines from India remained at the higher end of its range. After a couple of days of decreasing prices, the price of Chinese HRC held steady. The price of Chinese coking coal continues hovering in place for now.

The US HRC futures contract 3-month price showed little movement last Friday at $600.00 per short ton. The spot price of the US HRC futures contract was unchanged at $578.00 per short ton.

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