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BHP’s iron ore boss Edgar Basto has been promoted to run the company’s full suite of Australian mines, filling the role vacated by BHP’s new chief executive, Mike Henry.

Colombian-born Mr Basto has been acting in the role of Minerals Australia president since Mr Henry’s elevation was announced in November, and he will formally start in the role on July 1.

The appointment means Mr Basto will have a big voice in Canberra and on matters of national policy, and looms as the obvious candidate to replace Mr Henry on the board of the Minerals Council of Australia.

Mr Basto has led Western Australia’s Chamber of Minerals and Energy until he handed over to Rio Tinto’s rising star Ivan Vella last month.

The appointment comes after a busy few months for Mr Basto, who was on the front line of work to change rosters for fly-in fly-out workers to help prepare BHP’s flagship iron ore division for the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Basto has run the iron ore division from Perth since 2016, and spent the previous six years in a senior role at BHP’s Chilean copper mines.

Priot to working in Chile, Mr Basto was in charge of BHP’s health, safety and environment division.

Mr Henry highlighted the reduction in production costs at BHP’s iron ore division in recent years as a highlight of Mr Basto’s time, with the cost focus enabling BHP to undercut Rio’s traditional status as the world’s lowest cost iron ore producer.

BHP is yet to confirm who will replace Mr Basto as the company’s iron ore boss, but that role is currently being filled by Tim Day in an acting capacity.