BHP May Cut 450 Jobs in South Africa Aluminum Smelter Closing

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest miner, may cut as many as 450 jobs amid plans to close its Bayside aluminum smelter in South Africa.

BHP Billiton “began a formal consultation with employees in its Aluminium South Africa business on a proposal to cease smelting activities and associated services at Bayside,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. The Richards Bay-based operation, in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province “has been under significant and ongoing financial pressure.”

Aluminum’s cash settlement price decreased by 6 percent during BHP’s 2013 fiscal year, the company said in its latest annual report. Demand for the metal slowed while new supply continued to be added, which contributed to an increasing market surplus.

BHP would keep a cast house at Bayside open and supply local customers from the nearby Hillside smelter. Bayside produced 96,000 metric tons of aluminum in the year through June 2013, or 8.1 percent of the group’s total production.

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