BHP Billiton delivers record iron ore output as prices surge

BHP Billiton is making the most of higher iron ore prices, with output at its Pilbara mines in Western Australia lifting to a record during the December 2016 half year.

Record iron ore production for the six-month period of almost 118 million tonnes (Mt) was achieved after continued ramp-up of additional capacity at the Jimblebar operation, BHP reported.

Combined with improved track reliability and lower than expected maintenance at the Yandi mine, output of iron ore in the December quarter was also four per cent higher than in the September quarter at 60Mt.

“We have performed well during a period of higher prices, with record iron ore volumes achieved at Western Australia Iron Ore,” BHP Billiton chief executive officer Andrew McKenzie said.

“Our simpler organisational structure has freed our assets to focus on what matters most and to deliver safer and more productive operations.”

BHP’s metallurgical coal production was also higher in the December 2016 half year, by one per cent over the same period in 2015. However, the company’s output of petroleum, copper and thermal coal dropped during the six-month period.

Petroleum production for the half year declined by 15 per cent to 105.9MMboe, copper output fell by seven per cent to 712,000 tonnes, and thermal coal production was four per cent lower at 13.5Mt.

BHP Billiton has maintained full-year guidance for iron ore, coal and petroleum, but decreased its forecast for copper by two per cent to reflect performance at Olympic Dam in South Australia.

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