MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- BHP Billiton Ltd. said Thursday it is not aware of any move by China to take a substantial stake in the miner, responding to a media report that helped boost the company's shares one day ago.
A report in The Australian newspaper Wednesday said Chinese authorities were planning to take a stake of more than 9 percent in BHP. A jump in share prices prompted the Australian Securities Exchange to ask the company if it was aware of any reason for the rise.
''BHP Billiton is not aware of a proposed acquisition by Chinese authorities of a substantial stake in BHP Billiton,'' BHP said in its reply to the exchange.
The miner said it was not aware of any reason for the rise in its share price other than the increase in contract coking coal prices it announced Wednesday.
BHP shares rose 0.2 percent to close at 42 Australian dollars (US$39.05; euro24.83). They rose 3.7 percent on Wednesday.
Separate from The Australian report, BHP said Wednesday that prices this year for metallurgical coking coal products were expected to rise as much as 240 percent above last year's levels. The estimate was based on the settlement of contracts so far by the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, a partnership between the Anglo-Australian miner and a subsidiary of Japan's Mitsubishi Corp.
In its Wednesday report, The Australian said Chinese authorities wanted a stake in BHP to block the miner's proposed takeover of rival Rio Tinto Ltd. China fears a takeover would give the combined entity too much pricing power over key commodities, such as iron ore, the paper said.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, asked about the report Wednesday in Beijing, said Australia was an ''open market'' with a history of relying on foreign investment to fund development.
''Australia is an open market when it comes to foreign investment,'' he said, adding that any significant foreign investment application should be considered by the Foreign Investment Review Board.
China has become increasingly reliant on iron ore imports for its booming steel industry, and has chafed at soaring prices demanded by major miners.
The global mining industry is thriving on higher prices for raw materials, such as iron ore and coking coal, as steel makers race to meet growing demand from construction companies, auto makers and other manufacturers.
At the same time, supplies are constrained as miners try to boost production.