BHP Billiton (BHP -3%) expects a plant at its Olympic Dam copper mine to restart this month following repairs, and the company has found a way to deliver returns from the asset as part of a focus on maximizing productivity, the head of its Australian operations says.
"We have identified a very credible route to growing the asset," says BHP's Mike Henry, adding the company is on track with a plan to seek board approval for "bite-sized chunks of capital [spending] with healthy returns."
In Brazil, Henry says it is still too early to say when the BHP-Vale Samarco iron ore joint venture will resume production following the 2015 tailings dam burst.
"We're not on the cusp of a restart, let's put it that way," Henry says, listing steps that need to occur first, including winning community support, securing permits, ironing out technical details, proving the asset is "financially attractive" and restructuring its debt.
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