BHP Billiton posts iron ore record

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BHP Billiton has announced a record 22 per cent jump in iron ore production for the December quarter, fuelled by its Pilbara expansions.

Iron ore output for the company was recorded at 41.1 million tonnes at the end of the quarter, beating expectations from most analysts.

The company said while it had posted a strong result it was expecting a number factors to dampen Pilbara growth in the second half of FY2012.

"While scheduled maintenance, tie-in activities and the wet season in the Pilbara are expected to affect production in the second half of the 2012 financial year, full year production is now forecast to marginally exceed prior guidance of 159 million tonnes per annum," it said in the report.

During the December quarter the company also announced the approval of the Caval Ridge development and the expansion of the Peak Downs operation, both in Queensland.

The company also approved the Orebody 24 expansion in Western Australia.

But the biggest news for BHP’s Australian operations in the quarter was the commitment to spend $1.2 billion on the first phase of developing the Olympic Dam Project in South Australia.

In its report BHP said the Olympic Dam funding would be used for the procurement of long lead items like trucks, accommodation, infrastructure development, and early site works.

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