No respite from agenda of cost-cutting at BHP

HOW much fat is there left to cut?

BHP Billiton's latest results suggest there will be no respite from its agenda of cost-cutting, with chief executive Andrew Mackenzie saying it would be investing less in an effort to add to the AUD$2.8 billion in cash it saved in the past 12 months.

Despite the tight purse-strings, there is some good news from the results which show its Queensland Coal division - covering eight coal mines in Central Queensland - moved 14% more coal in the past three months than in the same period 12 months ago.

That is a total of 8.7.million tonnes of coal exported from BHP's Bowen Basin operations, up from 6.9.million tonnes.

According to the results, the healthy figures were thanks to first coal coming from its new Daunia mine near Moranbah and record production from South Walker Creek.

Maintenance and infrastructure shifts at its Goonyella Riverside, Peak Downs and Crinum sites mean even better numbers could be on the horizon.

Beyond the coal provinces, it was still iron ore which was the golden child for Mr Mackenzie.

He said there was "no better example" of BHP's keen eye for savings than in its ore business where there was a 5 million tonne increase in exports.

Mr Mackenzie said capital investment would fall by one-quarter to AUD$16.5.billion in this financial year.

"Our rate of expenditure will decline again next year and if our investment criteria cannot be met in any one project, product or geography, we will redirect our capital elsewhere or we will not invest," he said.