BHP has felt the impact of Australia’s bushfires, with its New South Wales energy coal production affected during the first half of the 2020 financial year due to poor air quality at the mines.
The company produced 9 per cent less energy coal during the December quarter than the prior corresponding period.
BHP stated that it would continue to monitor the situation, but if poor air quality remains throughout 2020, operations could be further constrained throughout the second half of the financial year.
During the same period, BHP’s metallurgical coal production fell by 2 per cent to 20 million tonnes.
BHP conducted its planned major shutdowns at the Peak Downs and Caval Ridge mines in Queensland, which offset their strong operational performance.
Further, Queensland Coal also felt the impact of low opening raw coal inventories at the Blackwater mine and truck and shovel underperformance at South Walker Creek.
BHP had a better performance from copper, which increased by 7 per cent to 885,000 tonnes for the first half of the current financial year, including record average concentrator throughput of 367,000 tonnes a day at the Escondida mine in Chile.
The company’s copper production also jumped by 32 per cent to 86,000 tonnes for the half-year at the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia due to an acid plant outage in the prior period.
BHP’s iron ore production also rose by 2 per cent to 121 million tonnes, helped by record production at the Jimblebar mine in Newman, Western Australia.
BHP chief executive Mike Henry, who assumed his new role since January, was pleased with the company’s performance and all six major development projects that were tracking to plan.
“We delivered solid operational performances across the portfolio in the first half of the 2020 financial year, offsetting the expected impacts of planned maintenance and natural field decline,” Henry said.
“Production and cost guidance is unchanged and we remain on track to deliver slightly higher production than last year.”