Chief operating officer predicts ‘huge growth’ in sector in Australia and plans to increase staff

The UK’s biggest contractor is targeting work opportunities in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand after forecasting “huge growth” in the mining sector
over the next five years.

Balfour Beatty, which has 50,000 employees and a £10.5bn turnover, plans to increase staff numbers in these countries as a priority to take on a predicted influx of work.

Andrew McNaughton, the group’s chief operating officer, would not be drawn on exact percentages but said: “Mining is a sector with big growth potential.

“There are some huge projects planned, particularly in Australia. The mining group Xstrata is planning billions of dollars of investment over the next five to seven years. We are forecasting huge growth as a result.”

He added that in 2012, if the mining sector takes off as anticipated, it would have a marked impact on the group’s already strong profit and turnover figures.
He said: “Over this year I predict modest growth unless we have success in Australia in which case we will grow dramatically.”

In the first six months of 2011 Balfour Beatty reported its order book was up 6% at £15.5bn. It reported a 20% rise in profit between 2009 and 2010 to £319m.
Balfour Beatty’s move into new sectors and geographies has been, in part, facilitated by its acquisition of US professional services group Parsons Brinckerhoff in 2009 for £380m.

As well as being able to focus on mining in Australasia, Balfour Beatty has businesses in South Africa in power transmission, power generation, and rail thanks to Parsons Brinckerhoff’s existing relationships in these sectors.

Last October the group said it was strengthening its presence in India by entering into a joint venture with Tata Projects.