BHP Billiton Limited set to close aluminium smelter

It is looking more and more likely that mining heavyweight BHP Billiton Limited  (ASX: BHP) will close down its Bayside aluminium smelter, located in South Africa, as pressure continues to mount on the miner to shut down unprofitable assets which could put roughly 450 jobs at stake.

With both nickel and aluminium assets excluded from the company’s “four pillar” strategy, the miner has been looking to exit the market and sell its assets in those divisions. Due to poor prices in both markets however, it has proven difficult to find a buyer willing to pay a decent price for the businesses. However, analysts have been saying that the sale of its aluminium assets, which have been valued at anywhere between US$3 billion and US$8 billion, could be bolstered if BHP closes down loss-making assets in the portfolio.

Bayside, which is the miner’s smallest aluminium smelter, has been under “significant and ongoing financial pressure”. After a year of reviewing the smelter, the company said it had begun formal consultation with employees.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.

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