BHP Billiton Sets Iron Ore, Copper and Coal Production Records

- July 18th, 2018

BHP ended the 2018 financial year with record-breaking production results out of its iron ore, copper and met coal operations.

BHP Billiton’s (ASX:BHP,LSE:BLT,NYSE:BHP) operational review for the year shows that the major miner managed to break records in iron ore, met coal and copper production.

The company’s Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) business saw record iron ore production of 238 million tonnes (Mt) for the 2018 financial year, an increase of 3 percent from the year-ago period. Output for the 2019 financial year is pegged at 241 to 250 Mt.

Last year’s gains were supported by improved productivity and stability across the supply chain, including rail and port, which enabled record production at the Jimblebar and Mining Area C operations.

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BHP recently approved US$2.9 billion in capital expenditure for its South Flank project, which is intended to fully replace iron ore production of 80 Mt a year from its Yandi mine.

South Flank is expected to help increase WAIO’s average iron grade from 61 to 62 percent, and should boost the overall proportion of lump from 25 percent up to 35 percent. Initial production is docketed for 2021, planned to coincide with Yandi’s decommissioning.

In copper, BHP’s production clocked in at 1.75 Mt for the 2018 financial year, with between 1.68 and 1.77 Mt expected in the upcoming financial year.

Production rates at the Pampa Norte operation in Chile grew by 4 percent to 264,000 tonnes, supported by record production of 200,000 tonnes at BHP’s Spence mine. This growth is attributed to better recoveries and higher utilization of solvent-extraction and electrowinning plants.

On the met coal front, BHP’s production for the 2018 financial year grew 7 percent to a record 43 Mt, with quarterly production at Queensland Coal hitting a record of 12 Mt, showing 16-percent growth from Q1. The company predicts that production will increase to 43 to 46 Mt during the 2019 financial year.

“We have delivered a strong finish to the 2018 financial year with an 8 percent increase in annual production and record output at Western Australia Iron Ore, Queensland Coal and at our Spence copper mine in Chile,” BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie said in the review.

“We further simplified the portfolio with the announced divestment of Cerro Colorado in Chile and Gregory Crinum in Australia and our investment in South Flank supports our ability to supply low cost, high quality products into Asia,” he added.

Mackenzie concluded, “[g]ood prices and our culture of continuous improvement give us positive momentum into the 2019 financial year.”

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Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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