BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, has gained support from top investors to get back on the acquisition trail following last year's failed bid for rival Rio Tinto, a newspaper report said on Sunday.

The Sunday Telegraph said BHP had held a series of meetings with investors in recent days, and had been given the green light to explore potential deals.

A spokesman for BHP declined to comment, but Chief Executive Marius Kloppers has said in recent months that the firm could jump on potential opportunities that come along .

The Sunday Telegraph report said shareholders were supportive of renewed bid talks with Rio, although under Takeover Panel rules BHP is banned from launching another bid without approval until late in 2009.

BHP walked away from a $66 billion hostile bid for Rio in November, citing the global economic downturn.