BHP Billiton PLC BLT Sale of Diamonds Business

  BHP Billiton PLC (BLT) - Sale of Diamonds Business

RNS Number : 0221R
BHP Billiton PLC
13 November 2012

Release Time IMMEDIATE
Date         13 November 2012
Number       27/12

                          SALE OF DiAMONDS BUSINESS

BHP Billiton has signed definitive  agreements to sell its diamonds  business, 
comprising its  interests in  the EKATI  Diamond Mine  and Diamonds  Marketing 
operations, to  Harry  Winston  Diamond  Mines Ltd.  (Harry  Winston)  for  an 
aggregate cash consideration of US$500 million. The transactions are  subject 
to regulatory approval and other customary conditions. Completion is  expected 
in the first quarter of calendar year 2013.

Under the  terms of  the agreements,  Harry  Winston will  assume all  of  BHP 
Billiton's  obligations  under  EKATI's   Environmental  Agreement  with   the 
Government of Canada and  the Northwest Territories, Socio-Economic  Agreement 
with  the  Government  of  the  Northwest  Territories,  Impact  and   Benefit 
Agreements with Aboriginal Groups and pension liabilities linked to the mine's
defined benefit  scheme.  Harry  Winston is  also  committed  to  maintaining 
EKATI's  environmental  standards  and  will  continue  to  work  with   local 
businesses and communities in the Canadian North. All BHP Billiton  employees 
working at EKATI,  in Yellowknife and  in Diamonds Marketing  in Antwerp  will 
become employees of Harry Winston as part of the transaction.

BHP Billiton Diamonds &  Specialty Products President Tim  Cutt said: "We  are 
very proud of EKATI's  track record and the  substantial value it has  created 
for the region and our  shareholders. The mine's success  is a credit to  the 
people who work there, at Yellowknife and with the marketing team in Antwerp.
Harry Winston has long experience in  the Canadian diamond industry and  their 
commitment to study further development at EKATI could help extend the  mine's 
contribution to Northern Canada for many years to come."

BHP  Billiton  Chief  Executive   Non-Ferrous  Andrew  Mackenzie  said:   "The 
divestment of  EKATI  is  consistent  with  our  focus  on  large,  long-life, 
low-cost, expandable, upstream assets  and, together with  the recent sale  of 
our interests in  Richards Bay  Minerals and Yeelirrie,  reflects our  ongoing 
pursuit of a simpler business."

The EKATI joint venture  parties holding the minority  interests in the  EKATI 
mine hold pre-emptive rights to purchase BHP Billiton's interests and have  60 
days from the  date they are  provided with notice  to exercise such  rights. 
Harry Winston's  agreements to  purchase BHP  Billiton's EKATI  interests  are 
subject to the  expiration or  waiver of  these pre-emptive  rights and  other 
customary regulatory and closing conditions.

The divestment of EKATI will result  in an impairment of approximately  US$200 
million (post tax) to the carrying value of the asset which will be  reflected 
as an exceptional item in BHP Billiton's financial results.


EKATI is located 310  kilometres northeast of  Yellowknife and 200  kilometres 
south of the Arctic Circle. It was Canada's first diamond mine. BHP Billiton's
interest in EKATI consists of an 80  per cent interest in the Core Zone  Joint 
Venture, comprising existing operations  and a 58.8 per  cent interest in  the 
Buffer Zone Joint Venture, primarily focusing on exploration targets.

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