SYDNEY, Jul 28, 2011 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) said Friday it will expand its Gemco manganese project in Australia, raising the capacity of the world's largest producer of the ore to 4.8 million tons a year.
The expansion will cost US$279 million, with BHP providing its 60% share of US$167 million, and be complete by late 2013, the company said. Anglo American PLC (AAL.LN) owns the remaining 40% stake.
Road and port capacity at the project, on the island of Groote Eylandt in Australia's northern Gulf of Carpentaria, will be raised to 5.9 million tons a year to permit further expansions, BHP said. Gemco accounts for more than 15% of the world's high-grade production of manganese, an important alloy in steelmaking where it is used to make the metal easier to work. It is also used in the aluminum industry to improve the element's corrosion resistance.