NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Aussie mining giant BHP Billiton (BHP) - Get Report is rich and ravenous. According to recent reports, the company has $18 billion lying around, awaiting use, and judging by recent remarks from its executives, one of those uses could very well be a mammoth takeout of a publicly held rival (though, admittedly, not on the scale of its failed attempt to subsume Rio Tinto (RTP) - Get Report in 2007).

An article in

The Wall Street Journal

this week posited four potential candidates as possible acquisition targets for BHP. We asked you to handicap the field.

The winner by a narrow margin, with 39.7% of the vote, was Phoenix-based

Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold

(FCX) - Get Report

, a company with mining interests the globe over and a market cap of $27.5 billion. Should BHP and Freeport ever strike a deal, it would be a cross-border blockbuster on the scale of the


sale to Belgium megabrewer


last year.

Coming in a close second with 35.3% of the clicks, was



, the Canadian fertilizer behemoth with a stock market value of about $26.5 billion. BHP has signaled recently its interest in expanding its potash business.

The rest of the choices were weak contenders, and for good reason.

Anglo American

(10.3% of the votes) is a world-class platinum miner, and BHP has said it has no interest in platinum mining.


(7.5%), the U.K.-based coal miner, overlaps with BHP's own coal assets, which could cause onerous antitrust issues. And


(VALE) - Get Report

(7.2%), the enormous Brazilian ore extractor, is majority-owned by its own government and thus an unlikely target, as our readers clearly understood.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.