BHP Billiton axing other 380 jobs at its Olympic Dam

BHP Billiton axing 380 jobs at its Olympic Dam

This is the third and deepest round of job cuts in eight months at BHP's massive operation. (Image courtesy of BHP Billiton).

BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP), the world’s largest mining company, is slashing another 380 jobs at its Olympic Dam copper, uranium and gold mine in South Australia, the third and deepest round of job cuts in eight months at the massive operation.

The announced layoffs follow 140 positions cut in June, and 90 permanent positions axed earlier in the year, as the miner tries to weather market conditions and ensure the mine, which produces copper, uranium and smaller amounts of silver and gold, remains financially sustainable.

In 2012, BHP cancelled a US$33 billion expansion of the operation, already Australia's largest underground mine. The ambitious but botched development was expected to create the world's largest uranium mine within 11 years. It included the construction of 270km of power lines, a 400 km pipeline, a new desalination plant and a 105km railway.

The majority of the positions to go now are on site at Olympic Dam, BHP said in an e-mailed statement, adding that some employees may be offered new positions.

The cuts represent 14% of what was once a 4,300 workforce, and are part of BHP ongoing efforts to reduce costs and drive efficiencies up that chief executive Andrew Mackenzie began before copper prices — Olympic Dam’s main earner — went downwards.

Final implementation of the operational review is expected by around mid-September, the company said.