New BHP boss says cost cutting will continue

BHP Billiton's new chief executive, Andrew Mackenzie, says cost cutting will continue at the mining company under his tenure.

"I'm committed to drive an agenda of productivity, and that will almost certainly be my top theme," he told the ABC's Inside Business.

He will replace Marius Kloppers as chief executive in May.

The company recently announced its half-year net profit had fallen 58 per cent to $US4.2 billion.

Mr Kloppers says increased productivity is needed to be competitive as resources demand from China weakens.

"We are going to go from growth rates in minerals demand of 15 to 20 per cent a year to 2 to 4 per cent a year," he said.

"Therefore you have to be low cost and you have to take into account that price is not going to help you here." He says the time is right for him to step down, and succession plans have been in place since he started in the role nearly six years ago.

"Literally on day one of getting the job, Paul Anderson said 'start succession now'.

Day two, the first call got made to Andrew," he said.

Mr Mackenzie says Mr Kloppers has left the company in good shape.

"He's built some phenomenal systems that I believe will allow me to drive the productivity agenda hard," Mr Mackenzie said.

He says BHP has a big role to play in the debate surrounding the sustainable supply of resources.

"Clearly as the largest mining company, the operator of some of the biggest ore bodies in the world, we have a critical role to play," he said.

"I want to continue Marius's success in the way we apply the most modern management techniques and technology to ensure we develop them sustainably, safely and in a way that the world gets the supply it wants.

"But it's a big debate and we'll be part of it."

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