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LONDON--Anglo-Australian mining firm BHP Billiton expects global commodities demand to grow 75% over the next 15 years driven in part by continued urbanization in emerging economies, the company's chief executive said Thursday.
Speaking at the company's annual general meeting in London, Andrew MacKenzie told shareholders "we are already seeing signs of recovery in the global economy" after a challenging year due to slower global economic growth and weaker commodity prices.
At the same meeting, Chairman Jac Nasser said the company is seeing moderate growth rates in the U.S. economy and a stronger U.S. housing sector and stock market. BHP expects continued recovery in the U.S. despite risk from the unwinding of the Federal Reserve's monetary easing policy.
In Europe, conditions remain challenging although more stable with uncertainty likely to continue in the near term, Mr. Nasser said.
In China, the world's largest consumer of many commodities, economic growth is expected to rise at a rate of 7% next year, Mr. Nasser said. This is slightly lower than the 7.8% annualized growth rate recorded in the third quarter of this year, but Mr. Nasser said he still expects the absolute demand levels for commodities to continue to rise as people continue to migrate from the countryside to cities.
Mr. Nasser said BHP expects to see continued growth in demand for the commodities BHP produces with emerging economies such as China accounting for 75% growth in demand for certain commodities over the next 15 years.
BHP 's business strategy is focused on four key commodities: iron ore, copper, petroleum, and coal. It is also considering adding potash as a fifth platform. The company has been spending $800 million annually on average to develop its Jansen project in Canada and expects demand for potash, a fertilizer that improve the yield and quality of agricultural production, to rise at about 2% to 3% a year until 2030.