Mining powerhouse BHP Billiton has smashed its iron ore production record for the 13th consecutive time, increasing its output rate to 217 million tonnes in the June quarter.
Total iron ore production increased seven per cent for the 2013 financial year to 170 million wet tonnes, a figure recorded after processing.
The company’s WA Orebody 24 delivered first iron ore in the June quarter, and the Jimblebar mine expansion project is expected to come online in December 2013 ahead of schedule.
The Jimblebar cost has blown out by $US340 million but BHP – which reports all its financials in US dollars – stressed the project is on budget in Australian dollar terms.
The continued ramping up of both iron ore projects, combined with the completion of the Port Hedland inner harbour expansion project which lifts port capacity to 220 million tonnes, has resulted in the company increasing its iron ore guidance to about 207 million tonnes next financial year.
BHP’s total metallurgical coal production increased 13 per cent in the 2013 financial year, to 38 million tonnes.
The company’s Queensland coal production also surged in the June quarter, increasing 54 per cent in comparison to the same time last year, achieving an annualised rate of 61 million tonnes.
The production increases were achieved despite indefinitely shutting both Norwich Park and Gregory mines and cutting jobs.
Scheduled to come online soon, the Caval Ridge coal mine is 71 per cent complete and with the continued ramp up of Daunia mine BHP expects its Queensland coal business to increase output to 66 million tonnes a year by the end of 2014.
BHP will report its full year financial result on August 20.