MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, Tuesday reported a better-than-expected half year profit of $8.1 billion as cost cuts offset lower commodity prices.
The Anglo-Australian company's shareholders could participate in a company share buyback in six months. Chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said net debt could be down to $25 billion by then, a level he has previously said could trigger a capital return.
BHP's net profit for the July-December half year jumped 83 percent to $8.1 billion from $4.4 billion a year earlier.
Stripping out one-time gains and losses, profit was up 31 percent to $7.8 billion. That was well ahead of analyst forecasts of about $7 billion.
Investigators for Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said in a report that the Bureau of Land Management's coal leasing program has allowed some companies to pay low rates for leases and benefit from low royalties at taxpayer cost, The New York Times reports.
In contrast to Democratic arguments that a GAO report highlights problems with the federal coal leasing program, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said the $1 billion in leasing revenue detailed in the report proves the economic necessity of the program, The Hill reports.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Congressional investigators have found problems with federal coal sales that might have cost taxpayers $200 million or more in lost revenue, a senator said Tuesday.
Citing a new report by investigators at the non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., called for the sales to be suspended until the problems are rectified.
More than 40 percent of U.S. coal production — or about 450 million tons a year — comes from public lands leased by the government to mining companies under the century-old Mineral Leasing Act. Those leases bring in more than $1 billion in annual revenue.
RENO, Nev. (AP) — An assistant U.S. secretary of labor has criticized a Nevada gold mine for failing to protect its workers after federal inspectors issued more than 60 citations and orders involving health and safety violations subject to more than $200,000 in potential penalties.
A review issued Wednesday noted that Veris Gold USA Inc., owner and operator of the Jerritt Canyon mine in Elko County, didn't have to report an electrical explosion and fire that injured two employees there on Dec. 19 because inspectors for the Mining Safety and Health Administration were already on site documenting infractions.
The violations included blocked emergency escape routes, faulty pressure relief valves and improperly stored hazardous chemicals at the operation that has 120 workers about 50 miles north of Elko, the mining administration said.
NEW YORK (AP) — Martin Marietta Materials is buying Texas Industries in an all-stock deal worth $2.06 billion, creating a leading supplier of aggregates and heavy building materials with a strong presence in large, fast-growing markets like California and Texas.
Martin Marietta said Tuesday shareholders of Texas Industries will get 0.7 shares of Martin Marietta for each share held. Based on Monday's closing price, that amounts to $71.95 per share, a premium of less than 1 percent from Texas Industries' closing price of $71.54.
Martin Marietta will also assume $700 million in Texas Industries debt.
No new rules on chemical safety and storage have been put into place a year after an ammonium nitrate explosion killed 15 people and damaged hundreds of homes in West, Texas, The Wall Street Journal reports, which notes the disaster has spawned disagreements instead.
With rhetoric growing more heated ahead of Ukraine talks set for Thursday, oil prices were back on the rise. WTI increased 88 cents Wednesday in electronic trading on the Nymex to $104.63 a barrel, while in London Brent crude hit $110 a barrel midmorning local time, Reuters reports.
The Texas Petro Index, monitoring the oil and gas industry in the state, hit a level in February not seen since 1980, according to the statistic’s creator, who said crude production for the month came to some 77.2 million barrels, FuelFix reports.
The Senate Majority PAC, providing money for vulnerable Democrats, picked up $11 million in the 1st quarter but other super PACs have been doing well with fund raising also, The Washington Post reports.
Railroads, used to operating under exclusively federal jurisdiction, are coming under increasing pressure to provide more information as they carry crude oil, and will face new rules forcing them to do so this summer, The New York Times reports.
Frigid weather this past winter that resulted in gas price spikes points to the need to improve the ways natural gas gets to market, but more pipeline capacity may not necessarily steady costs, panel members said at a gas forum in Atlanta, Platts reports.
Recent finds of mildly radioactive oil filter socks have triggered concern and illustrates how authorities in North Dakota are having trouble handling some aspects of the shale drilling boom, The Wall Street Journal reports.
As part of a two-year plan to dispose of some of its assets, BP is looking for buyers to take on rights for some 280,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle, in an area rich in natural gas that the company says would be better suited to an operator used to getting the most out of mature territory, FuelFix reports.