BHP Billiton is said to be in negotiations to purchase iron ore junior miner United Minerals for nearly $220m.

BHP is believed to have made an offer of $1.40 a share for United, a 50% premium to the 92 cents latest share price, according to a report in The Australian.

United’s shares last week went into a trading halt. This was transformed to a suspension when a variation of control transaction could not be bedded down in time.

It is not certain whether the $1.40 offer will be increased or decreased during talks if a deal is finalised.

BHP’s iron ore output seems to have recovered following a revamp of its safety systems due to the five deaths that occurred at its West Australian operations last financial year.