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Mining giant BHP sees further growth in innovation, exploration and acquisitions

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(Kitco News) - Answering questions at the fireside chat of the Bank of America Metals, Mining and Steel Conference held yesterday, BHP CEO Mike Henry said that the company will focus its further growth on the commodities of the future, citing copper and nickel among priorities.

He pointed out that BHP is already the world's third largest copper producer, fourth largest producer of Class 1 nickel, and that the company will see roughly 20 per cent or just over 300,000 tonnes per annum growth in copper production coming over the next five years.

The BHP CEO explained that this growth will become a reality because of the efforts the company has been undertaking to stabilise smelter operations at Olympic Dam, the Spence operation growth option coming on and the growth the company will have at Escondida, in part because of higher grades.

"We will achieve the 1.2 million tonnes per annum average production over the next five years at Escondida, so some solid growth ahead of us. But we need to create more options," added Henry.

He said that the first focus is on bringing innovation in order to be able to economically recover more of the resources the company already has in place.

"If we can bring innovation to bear on how we go about unlocking more of those resources, that's the first prize for us," said Henry.

He pointed out that BHP is also increasing its exploration efforts.

"We've had some reasonable success over the past 12 months on securing more partnerships and on increasing our exploration efforts in a number of geographies, both in nickel and in copper," he explained.

The BHP CEO also noted that in addition, the company remains open to the possibility of acquisition of "right assets" in the future, while maintaining a very strong focus on early-stage exploration and innovation.

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