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BHP approves Worsley expansion project

BHP Billiton Ltd has pressed the button on a $2.5 billion expansion of its Worsley Alumina refinery, after rising costs threatened to derail both the Worsley project and a similar expansion planned by Alcoa at its Wagerup alumina refinery.

The Worsley refinery, which is 86 per cent owned by BHP Billiton, will lift capacity from 3.5 million tonnes per year to 4.6 million tonnes.

The cost of the 1.1 mt pa expansion has nearly doubled from earlier estimates: in August 2007, BHP said an indicative cost for its 86 per cent share was US$1 billion but that has now increased to US$1.9 billion.

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