iron ore production

BHP hit by $546m Chilean strikes burden

BHP Billiton will take a $546 million (£420 million) hit to cover the cost of strikes at its Escondida copper mine in Chile.

The mining giant, still reeling from the fallout from the Samarco dam collapse in Brazil, today said that while iron-ore production rose 4% in the last year, copper fell by 16%.

That was because of industrial action at Escondida and unplanned maintenance work at Olympic Dam in South Australia.

Activist hedge fund Elliott is putting pressure on the mining company to sell or spin off its oil business.

BHP today said it intended to increase activity in the US oil and shale-gas fields that Elliott wants to see sold.

The New York hedge fund wants a sweeping overhaul of the world’s largest-listed miner after criticising the billions of dollars spent on acquisitions and share buybacks.

BHP and joint-venture partner Vale are facing a $44 billion civil lawsuit from the Brazil dam disaster.

Brazil prosecutors said in May: “Preliminary studies show the human, economic and socio-environmental impacts of the collapse of the dam are, at least, equivalent to those verified in the Gulf of Mexico [BP oil spill].”