SYDNEY (Reuters) - BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) BLT.L, the world’s biggest mining company, said it would seek to grow aggressively in India where volume growth is outstripping China, its other boom market.
BHP, which posted a jump in full-year profit earlier this week on strong minerals sales, and earmarked $20 billion (9.98 billion pounds) for new projects, said there were untapped opportunities for miners in iron ore and bauxite projects in India.
“We are pushing into India extremely aggressively on selling product there,” Chief Executive-elect Marius Kloppers told reporters in Melbourne at a post-results briefing on Friday.
India accounts for about 4 percent of BHP’s sales. Fast-industrialising China has been its other surging market. BHP said China and India combined would help it ride out any downturn in the U.S. economy.
The miner said growth in volumes to India was outstripping China although off a lower base. It is now selling more products in India than it was in China six years ago.
Kloppers, who takes over the top job from Chip Goodyear in October, pointed to potential opportunities in iron ore and bauxite in India if the Indian government eased regulations restricting the resources it is willing to allocate to those projects.
“The access to resources or types of businesses we want to run in, areas where they are very well endowed — bauxite and iron ore — those opportunities have not yet materialised for companies like us,” he said.
He said BHP was not talking to India about uranium sales.
Goodyear said nine projects due to be completed in the next 12 months would come in on budget unless there were any unexpected events such as a hurricane.
“We currently would expect to hit those budgets even though you see inflationary pressures continue,” he said.
BHP said on Wednesday that near-term, commodity prices were expected to remain high, if more volatile, and forecast big volume growth in petroleum, base metals, iron ore and stainless steel.
BHP’s Australian shares were off 2.8 percent at A$36.66 (15.01 pounds) at 5:30 a.m. British time. The stock gained 6.5 percent to a one-month closing high in the previous session on the earnings results.
Additional reporting by Jane Williams in MELBOURNE