The two big miners, BHP Billiton
Sure, the documents have been executed between the companies for the partnership that was agreed to in June, and regulatory submissions have been made. But submitting documents is one thing. Receiving approval is quite another. And beyond that, the combination could face stiff opposition from its steelmaker customers and even from other governments -- such as China's.
The companies rank with Brazil's Vale
But the companies must still receive a blessing from both the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the European Commission. And then there are those who believe that, since the Chinese are huge iron ore customers, Beijing may try to work its way into the process for a say-so as well.
At the same time, even if the deal is approved, Australia is facing a labor shortage, with the unions restless and threatening to increase costs. The labor movement has already affected the energy industry, when a key Chevron
In the meantime, however, BHP in particular is keeping busy. It has just unloaded its unsuccessful Ravensthorpe nickel mine to Canada's Firs Quantum Minerals Ltd. for $340 million. Also, Friday and Saturday may find it returning to Iraq for the latest round of oilfield bids. With its significant oil and gas operation, BHP will be the one member of the big iron ore trio participating in the bidding process.
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