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BHP finishes the year strongly

20th July 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

     

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PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Diversified major BHP has reported record production at some of its assets during the full year ended June.

The miner on Thursday reported yearly production records at its Western Australian iron-ore operations, its Spence copper mine, and its Olympic Dam operation for both copper and refined gold.

“BHP finished the year with a strong fourth quarter, increasing annual production across the board and achieving annual records at Western Australian iron-ore, Olympic Dam and Spence. Western Australian iron-ore shipped record volumes on the back of productivity in its supply chain, rail network and car dumpers, while South Flank completed its deployment of autonomous haul trucks in May and is on track to ramp up to full production in the next 12 months,” said BHP CEO Mike Henry.

“Olympic Dam’s improved reliability and productivity delivered record annual output in copper, gold and silver, and the integration of Oz Minerals into our South Australian copper business is expected to lift production to between 310 000 t and 340 000 t in 2024. At Escondida, the team managed through operational challenges to deliver solid production and position the asset to increase output further in the 2024 financial year. Our Queensland coal operations achieved strong underlying performance including the transition to autonomous fleets at Goonyella Riverside and Daunia, offsetting the impact of significant wet weather,” Henry said.

Iron-ore production in the June quarter was up 9% on the previous quarter, to 65.3-million tonnes, with full-year production for the 12 months to June reaching 257-million tonnes, a 1% increase on the 2022 financial year.

The increased production from the Western Australian iron-ore operations was reported despite unfavourable impacts from Tropical Cyclone Ilsa, and came on the back of strong supply chain performance and the impact of temporary shutdowns in the previous quarter following a fatality, as well as the tie-in activity of the port debottlenecking project.

Copper production for the June quarter was 17% up on the March quarter, to 476 200 t, with full-year production up by 9%, to 1.71-million tonnes.

BHP told shareholders that higher concentrate volumes at Escondida reflect the higher concentrate feed grade of 0.93%, and higher volumes at Copper South Australia resulted in a BHP record for quarterly production from the refinery at Olympic Dam, and reflect the addition of Prominent Hill and Carrapateena.

Olympic Dam produced a record 212 000 t of copper and 186 000 oz of refined gold during the full year, marking a record year of production for the asset.

Meanwhile, metallurgical coal production in the June quarter was up by 22%, to 8.5-million tonnes, but remained stable in the full year at 29-million tonnes.

BHP said on Thursday that the increased production volumes in the June quarter were driven by increased yield, improved truck productivity and favourable weather conditions, partially offset by the commencement of a second longwall move at Broadmeadow.

BHP has again reiterated its decision not to invest in further growth at its metallurgical coal assets in Queensland, given the state government’s decision to hike coal royalties, making Queensland the highest coal taxing regime in the world.

Energy coal production for the June quarter was up 21% on the March quarter, to 4.8-milion tonnes, and up 3% in the full year, to 14.2-million tonnes. The miner said that the higher volumes was a result of additional stripping volumes, decreased proportion of washed coal, favourable weather conditions, and improvement in truck productivity with record quarterly annualised truck hours

BHP’s nickel production for the three months to June was up 12% on the previous quarter, to 22 000 t, and up 4% in the full year to 80 000 t. The miner told shareholders that the higher nickel volumes were owing to improved mining performance at Mt Keith, increased third-party purchases and inventory drawdowns enabling increased concentrate production, partially offset by a heavy rain event in April 2023.

The company told shareholders that full-year unit cost guidance was expected to be achieved at the Escondida, Western Australian iron-ore, and New South Wales energy coal operations, however, the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance operations are expected to be marginally above guidance.

“Inflationary pressures impacted our business in the year, and we remain laser-focused on safety and productivity to remain competitive. Competitiveness will be ever more important as we enter the new financial year and at a time when there are new challenges and opportunities to resource development and global economic volatility,” said Henry.

“BHP’s portfolio is geared towards high-quality steelmaking and growth options in future-facing commodities. The Jansen potash project in Canada remains ahead of plan and studies for Stage 2 are progressing. Through the year, BHP made strategic investments and exploration progress in copper and nickel prospects globally, including Kabanga in Tanzania, Oak Dam in Australia, Filo Mining with the Filo del Sol project in Argentina and Chile, and Ocelot in the United States, as well as Serbia and Peru.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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