New production records for BHP

BHP Billiton this morning released its production results for the second half of 2009, revealing new production records for iron ore, nickel and zinc.

BHP Billiton set new production records for iron ore, nickel and zinc in second half of last year, thanks to the completion and expansion of several projects.

The company’s half-year production results, released this morning, revealed more than 62.5 million tonnes of iron ore were produced in the six months up to 31 December.

This was a 6% increase on the production from the same period in 2008, BHP said. According to the miner, production commenced at the Western Australia Iron Ore Rapid Growth Project 4 (RGP4) during the first half of 2009.

“Ramp up of RGP4 is continuing with full capacity expected to be achieved by the end of calendar year 2011,” the company said.

“Including RGP4, the full installed capacity across the WA iron ore operations is 155 million tonnes per annum.

“With the completion of RGP4, the WA operations have more than doubled their installed capacity since the accelerated growth program commenced in 2002.”

BHP said 54% of its wet metric tonne iron ore shipments from WA were based on annually agreed pricing, with the remainder sold on shorter term reference pricing.

The company also produced more than 106,000 tonnes of zinc 84,400 tonnes of nickel in the half year.

These results were 33% and 45% increases on the production from the same period from in 2008 respectively.

BHP is still expecting some volatility in the global commodity markets in the short term.

“During the December quarter, we saw strong price recovery across the commodity suite driven by demand in China and restocking in the developed world,” the company said.

“Government stimulus measures appear to have supported a gradual return to normalised global trade, albeit from a low base and most key indicators across the developed economies showed improvement.

“The speed of recovery in the developed economies remains uncertain, particularly considering the eventual withdrawal of government stimulus.

“The impact of measures to control loan growth in China will add another future variable.”

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