BHP’s Olympic Dam slowed by technical concern

Olympic Dam. Image: BHP.

BHP is reportedly working to fix a technical issue that has disrupted its processing facilities at the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.

The concern is at the operation’s acid plant and has impacted surface production, according to an ABC report, which suggested operations may be affected for up to eight weeks.

BHP launched a $350 million project to upgrade the smelter at Olympic Dam a year ago.  The maintenance and upgrade of the surface operations was the largest planned shutdown project ever undertaken at the mine.

The Olympic Dam disruption comes as BHP today released its 2018 financial year results.  The company reported a 37 per cent fall in profits because of a write-down on its onshore shale assets in the United States, Donald Trump’s US tax reform and payouts following the Samarco dam failure in Brazil.

BHP’s profits would have been 33 per cent higher at $US8.9 billion ($12.1 billion) if these expenses were excluded from the results.

The company did enjoy $US12.5 billion of free cash flow, reflecting higher prices and volumes, with annual production records at nine operations across iron ore, coal, copper and petroleum. Its revenues were 21 per cent higher for the financial year at $US43.64 billion.

BHP chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie said, “Our balance sheet is strong, with net debt now at the lower end of our target range, and our investment plans on track across iron ore, copper, coal and petroleum.

“Across our dramatically simplified portfolio of tier one assets, we see this year’s strong momentum carried into the medium term as our leadership, technology and culture drive further increases in productivity, value and returns.

“Our rich suite of options coupled with our rigorous capital allocation framework will make sure we get the most out of every dollar we invest.”

BHP will pay a record final dividend of 63 US cents per share. The company secured a deal to sell its onshore petroleum assets for $US10.8 billion in July.

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