BHP hits halfway mark of South Flank construction

The South Flank site. Image: BHP

BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie has declared the South Flank iron ore project in the Pilbara, Western Australia 50 per cent complete.

The multi-billion dollar project is on track for initial production in 2021, replacing production from the 80 million tonne a year Yandi mine near Newman.

BHP has been handing out multiple contracts at South Flank throughout this year since work began in mid-2018.

It has built a strong line up of contractors, including thyssenkrupp (rail mounted stackers and reclaimers supply and installation), Fenner Dunlop (50-kilometre overland belt supply), Primero Group (balance machine works), Clough (ore handling plant construction) and Precast Australia (concrete elements supply).

Komatsu is also deploying 41 automation-ready Komatsu 930E-5 ultra-class haul trucks at South Flank, starting this month.

“The South Flank iron ore project is 50 per cent complete, with all our major projects on schedule and budget,” Mackenzie, in a BHP quarterly update, said.

“We (also) delivered a solid start to the 2020 financial year through ongoing strong operational performance across our portfolio.

“While group production for the quarter decreased slightly due to the expected impacts of planned maintenance and natural field decline in Petroleum, guidance remains unchanged.”

BHP’s iron ore production in the September quarter slid by 3 per cent to 61 million tonnes on the previous period.

The major miner attributed this loss to significant planned maintenance at Port Hedland, including a major car dumper maintenance program. Its port maintenance program also continues through the 2020 financial year, according to BHP.

BHP’s metallurgical coal production also plummeted to 9.35 million tonnes in the September quarter, a reduction of 21 per cent against the June quarter.

The company revealed that production at Queensland Coal was impacted by the planned major wash plant shutdowns at Goonyella, Peak Downs and Caval Ridge.

BHP experienced a similar trend in its energy coal division, which production dropped by 24 per cent from the June quarter to 5.65 million tonnes.

The company stated that its New South Wales Energy Coal production experienced a 10 per cent reduction due to the change in product strategy to focus on higher quality products.

Its September quarterly results don’t seem to faze BHP’s chief executive, however, with Mackenzie saying, “We are on track to deliver slightly higher volumes than last financial year.”

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