BHP and Adaro to JV Indonesian coal project

BHP Billiton Ltd has entered into a joint venture with a subsidiary of Indonesian-listed PT Adaro Energy for a coal project in Indonesia. Adaro will take a 25% stake in BHPB's Maruwai project, which covers seven contract areas in East and Central Kalimantan provinces, where undeveloped metallurgical and thermal coal resources are estimated at 774 Mt.

"These agreements with Adaro provide a strong local partner to ensure the successful development of our world-class metallurgical coal interests in Indonesia," Hubie van Dalsen, BHP's metallurgical coal president, said in a statement quoted by The Wall Street Journal.

The agreement still needs to be approved by the Indonesian government.

Adaro's head of investor relations, Cameron Tough, said that the 25% stake was valued at $350 milion.

Adaro Energy's director of corporate affairs, Andre Mamuaya, said the Maruwai project was still in an exploratory phase. "We are also doing a feasibility study to determine when we can start production," he said.

Adaro, the Indonesia's second-ranked thermal coal miner by output, said in December it plans to mine about 45 Mt of low-sulfur thermal coal in 2010 versus about 41 Mt in 2009, and to export 70% to 75% of production in both years.