Australian Foundation Investment Co. (AFI.AU), a fund that owns shares in BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP, BHP.AU), said Sunday that it would encourage miners to reassess the viability of new projects amid softer commodity prices.
Although there is likely to be a lot more economic growth in China, a period of very high commodity prices appears to be coming to an end, AFI Chief Executive Ross Barker told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. in a television interview. AFI owns less than 1% of BHP Billiton shares.
"There are still an enormously large number of mining projects in train and on the drawing board in Australia. The big question for immediate- to long-term investors is how many of those will actually get up," Mr. Barker said.
His comments come after the Australian newspaper, citing documents it obtained from an unidentified consultancy, reported that BHP Billiton has delayed by two years, to 2014, a decision on whether to proceed with the A$30 billion expansion of the Olympic Dam uranium, copper and gold mine in South Australia state.
Representatives for BHP Billiton in Sydney wouldn't comment Sunday on the company's timetable for Olympic Dam.
"We will approve projects in a sequence that maximizes value, reduces risk and balances the consideration of short- and long-term returns," a BHP spokeswoman said.