BHP may cut more iron-ore jobs

BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) (LON: BLT) may lay off more staff as part of its ongoing efforts to increase the profitability of its northwestern Australia iron-ore operations.

The job cuts are thought to involve planning and development positions at its iron-ore divisional headquarters in Perth and at centres in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

The company has already cut more than 500 jobs, including 100 from the divisional office in Perth. Another 170 jobs have been cut at the mining giant's Whaleback mine in Pilbara.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Melbourne-based BHP said Wednesday that it has no job-cut target numbers.

"It is very difficult for me to give precise answers as to what that all works out to," Jimmy Wilson, president of BHP's iron-ore unit, was quoted by the paper as saying. "Our aspiration is to at least hold our headcount the same or reduce it while we are increasing our volumes."

Wilson said that any further layoffs would have no connection with the price of iron ore, a key component of steel.

Iron ore is down 30% this year after a relatively quiet 2013. On March 10 this year, it suffered its worst one-day decline since the financial crisis of 2008-2009.