BHP flags iron ore production growth

Image: BHP

BHP increased production at its Western Australian Iron Ore (WAIO) operations by 4 per cent in the 2017 financial year.

The diversified miner reported in its latest operational review that iron ore production reached more than 231 million tonnes (Mt), reflecting strong productivity improvement, as well as the commissioning of a new crusher and additional conveying capacity at the Jimblebar site.

In the June quarter, BHP produced more than 60.1Mt of iron ore, an 8 per cent rise on the same quarter a year earlier.

BHP is on track to increase output at WAIO even further, with it setting guidance at between 239-243Mt for the 2018 financial year.

Meanwhile, production fell at BHP’s copper business due to industrial action at the Escondida mine in Chile and the power outage and unplanned maintenance at Olympic Dam in South Australia.

Copper production in fiscal 2017 was 16 per cent lower than the previous year.

Metallurgical coal also fell despite record volumes at two of BHP’s mines in Queensland. The company explained this was more than offset by the impacts of Cyclone Debbie as production dropped by 6 per cent.

BHP chief executive officer Andrew McKenzie said the company’s people had stepped up to unlock low-cost latent capacity and achieve productivity gains across its tier one assets.

“Improved productivity led to record annual production at WAIO, Spence and two Queensland Coal mines while production guidance was achieved by petroleum and WAIO,” McKenzie said.

“Copper production is expected to rebound strongly in the 2018 financial year with the commissioning of the Escondida Water Supply project and ramp-up of the Los Colorados extension project during the September 2017 quarter to enable utilisation of Escondida’s three concentrators.”

BHP’s petroleum production was 13 per cent lower after the deferral of development activity in the United States and field decline in its conventional assets.

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