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June 2000

A group of 14 mining companies — including De Beers, BHP and De Beers sister company Anglo-American — is setting up a special “business to business” Internet exchange that would allow the companies to save millions on supply costs on everything from tractor tires to dynamite.

Analysts said that BHP alone could shave $500 million off its annual supply bill by using the service. There are already similar “web exchanges” available for the oil and gas industries.

Still, some wonder about the anti-trust aspect of something like this. Many of these companies are long-time rivals. The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission, the country’s anti-trust agency, said it would reverse comment until it reviewed the plan it has restricted trade in precious minerals involving foreign currency to eight specific buildings and zones around the country, most of them bank branches. Only people with an authorized foreign currency bank account and an office in one of the recognized trade locations will be permitted to buy or sell precious minerals.

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