BHP Billiton has received approval from its joint venture partner Samancor Manganese to expand the Gemco operation in the Northern Territory of Australia.

The $279m expansion is set to increase GEMCO’s beneficiated product capacity to 4.8Mtpa.

The expansion, to be completed in 2013, will also increase road and port capacity to 5.9Mtpa, creating 1.1Mtpa of latent capacity for future expansions.

BHP Billiton holds a 60% stake in Samancor Manganese, which owns the GEMCO mine.