BHP warns of possible Worsley layoffs


BHP Billiton has warned that it may cut jobs at its alumina operation in Western Australia depending on the results of an ongoing review of the organisational structure at its Worsley refinery.

BHP Billiton Image credit: User: Jason Rhodes
BHP Billiton
Image credit: User: Jason Rhodes

According to the article on The Wall Street Journal, company spokeswoman Eleanor Nichols said on Tuesday that the review was aimed at helping the company determine the number of workers needed to support production at the refinery, which could lead to job cuts.

“We don’t intend to provide any detail about specific adjustments, but clearly there may be some impact on jobs in some areas,” Eleanor Nichols said, adding the review wasn’t expected to disrupt the operation.

Last year BHP completed a major expansion program at the refinery and increased its capacity to 4.6 million metric tons a year from 3.5 million in May 2008. However, despite increasing output from the operation by 26% in the fiscal year through June 2013, the company still booked US$1.6 billion impairment charge, reflecting weak prices and the continued strength of the Australian dollar.

BHP’s Worsley review comes after the company confirmed earlier this month that it was considering selling its Nickel West business in Western Australia as part of the plant to shift focus on iron ore, coal, oil and gas, and copper.

BHP has already sold US$6.5 billion worth of assets over the past two years, and revealed in January that it was also considering closing its Bayside aluminium smelter in South Africa which imports alumina from Worsley.