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BHP Billiton approves new projects.

Worsley Efficiency & Growth project achieves first production.

The Anglo-Australian multinational mining and exploration company BHP Billiton has approved the $2.2bn (BHP share) Escondida Organic Growth Project 1 (OGP1) and the $414m (BHP share) Escondida Oxide Leach Area Project (OLAP), according to a March quarterly report released today.

OGP1 involves the replacement of an existing concentrator and allows access to valuable, higher grade ore.
In addition, the company approved pre-commitment expenditure of $779m (BHP Billiton share) for the proposed Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) Outer Harbour development.
In April 2012, the company also approved pre-commitment funding of $708m for the Mad Dog Phase 2 project in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico which will facilitate detailed engineering and the procurement of long lead time items related to the hull, topsides and subsea equipment.
The company said that its Worsley Efficiency & Growth project will no longer be reported in future exploration and development reports as it achieved first production in the March 2012 quarter and is 98 per cent complete. 
As at 31 March 2012, the company’s exploration and appraisal wells drilled during the quarter or in the process of drilling include Gunflint-3, Julong Centre, Julong East, Jujur-1, N. Scarborough, and Tallaganda-1.
For the nine months ended 31 March 2012, the company’s onshore US drilling and development expenditure totalled US$2.2bn, while it has spent $785m on minerals exploration, of which $668m was expensed.
Greenfield exploration continued on copper targets in South America, nickel and copper targets in Australia, and iron ore and potash in a number of regions globally, according to the company.
For the nine months period, the company’s petroleum exploration expenditure was $925m, while onshore US drilling and development expenditure totalled $2.2bn.
For the 2012 financial year, the company anticipates petroleum exploration expenditure of $1.4bn, including the Onshore US exploration program.