bhpBHP Billiton today celebrated 50 years of mining manganese from its operation on Groote  Eylandt.

BHP Billiton Manganese Australia President, Bryan Quinn, was joined by the Northern  Territory Minister for Mines and Energy, the Hon Willem Westra van Holthe MLA, Members  of the Arnindilyakwa Land Council, community and government representatives, and  employees, in a ceremony to mark the occasion.

“Today we are delighted to celebrate 50 years of mining and working together with the  Traditional Owners of Groote Eylandt. Over the past 50 years our Company has taken great  pride in ensuring we rehabilitate the land as we mine, and treat the overall Eylandt with the  respect it deserves as such an important place in this beautiful region.

“One of the great things about GEMCO1 is the training and employment opportunities it
offers local people. We recognised early that for us to be successful we need to work with
the community to train and employ local people and encourage local capability across a
range of fronts, including businesses.

“Today we employ 63 Indigenous people, including 47 from the local community, and  although this is a strong foundation, we continue to look at ways to improve our employment  opportunities,” Mr Quinn said.

The ceremony also recognised the completion of the second stage of the Groote Eylandt
Expansion Project.

“We are also pleased to celebrate the completion of the second stage expansion of  GEMCO, which will increase capacity from 4.2 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 4.8 mtpa  and address infrastructure constraints by increasing road and port capacity to 5.9 mtpa.

“In the past five years, we have invested around US$462 million (100 per cent basis) in two
significant expansions of GEMCO and during this time we have grown our workforce,  creating new jobs and business opportunities for local companies in Darwin and Groote
Eylandt,” Mr Quinn said.

BHP Billiton’s Australian manganese business is the largest seaborne producer of  manganese ore in the world, exporting to markets in China, India, Korea, Japan and Europe.  In the past 50 years GEMCO has exported more than 80 million tonnes of manganese ore.  GEMCO is an important mining operation for the Northern Territory and is one of the largest  contributors to Northern Territory Government mining royalties.

Mr Quinn said he was looking forward to continuing to work in partnership with the local
community and the Northern Territory Government to support the harmonious, sustainable
and long-term competitiveness of GEMCO.

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