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Australia's Largest Mining Company Posts Record Profits


Australia's largest miner continues to ride the commodities boom, posting a record half-year profit, and a Singaporean company will run Pakistan's new deep-sea port. Claudia Blume in Hong Kong has more on these and other stories in our weekly summary of business news from around Asia.

Australia's mining firm BHP Billiton says its net profit rose 41 percent to a record six billion dollars in the second half of last year. The world's largest miner said the increase was due to strong demand for minerals, especially from China, high prices and solid production.

BHP Billiton's chief executive, Chip Goodyear, says the outlook for the company remains healthy. He says rapid growth in emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil and Russia, coupled with steady growth in Europe and Japan, has eased fears that a slowdown in the United States could curb demand and bring down commodity prices.

"The U.S. slowdown does not have the same impact in un-resourced demand that it might have had 10 or 20 years ago, and it does illustrate the potential we see coming from emerging countries," Goodyear says.

Pakistan has awarded Singapore's state-owned PSA International a contract to manage the country's new deep-sea port on the Arabian Sea for 40 years. Gwadar port in Baluchistan province was built with financial aid from China and is due to be operational in March. Gwadar is strategically located between South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East and resource-rich Central Asia. Pakistan's third deep-water port is expected to become an important regional maritime hub.

PSA International, owned by the Singapore government's investment firm, Temasek Holdings, is one of the world's top port operators.

A consortium of Chinese companies, led by the country's biggest gold miner Zijin Mining Group, has made a 185 million dollar offer to buy British copper miner Monterrico Metals. Monterrico's main asset is development rights for the Rio Blanco copper deposits in northern Peru. China imports about 70 percent of its copper needs and wants to diversify its supply base.

The head of Hyundai Motor, South Korea's largest automaker, was convicted of embezzlement and other charges and sentenced to three years in prison.

Chung Mong-koo was found guilty of embezzling close to 100 million dollars to create a slush fund to bribe politicians and officials. He was also convicted for inflicting financial damage on Hyundai affiliates through questionable deals.

Chung, one of South Korea's richest men, remains free pending an appeal to a higher court. He was arrested last April and spent two months in prison before being released on bail.

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