PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Major BHP has reported record iron-ore production from its Western Australian operations, while the Olympic Dam operation, in South Australia, also posted its highest annual copper production since the mine was acquired in 2005, along with its highest ever gold production.
BHP on Tuesday reported that iron-ore production for the year ended June was up 2% on the previous financial year, to 253.2-million tonnes, and up 9% in the June quarter, compared with the March quarter, to 65.2-million tonnes.
The increased production from the Pilbara operations reflected the addition of the South Flank operation, which started production in May, and the continued strong operational performance enabled by improved supply chain reliability, the miner said.
“BHP safely delivered another year of excellent operational performance and its second consecutive financial year with zero fatalities at our operated assets. We set several production records and brought on four major projects safely, on schedule and on budget,” said CEO Mike Henry.
“This strong performance is a reflection of the capability and commitment of our employees and contractors, the strength of our systems and the support of our business partners.
We achieved production records at our Western Australia iron-ore operations and the Goonyella Riverside metallurgical coal mine in Queensland. We maintained all-time high concentrator throughput at our Escondida copper mine in Chile.
“Olympic Dam in South Australia had its highest annual copper production since BHP acquired the asset in 2005, and its best-ever gold production.
“South Flank, the largest and one of the most technically-advanced iron-ore mines in Australia, began production in May and will boost the overall quality of BHP’s iron-ore product suite. In the same month, the Ruby project in Trinidad and Tobago started production. Atlantis Phase 3 in the Gulf of Mexico and the Spence expansion in Chile began production in the first half of the year,” said Henry.
“BHP is in great shape. Our operations are performing well, we continue our track record of disciplined capital allocation, and our portfolio is positively leveraged to the megatrends of decarbonisation, electrification and population growth.”
Petroleum production for the full year was down 6%, to 102.8-million barrels of oil equivalent, but up by 6% in the June quarter, to 27-million barrels of oil equivalent, owing to higher seasonal demand at Bass Strait, and improved uptime at Atlantis.
Copper production in the full year was down by 5%, to 1.63-million tonnes, while quarterly production was up 3%, to 403 000 t, as higher volumes resulted from the ongoing ramp-up of concrete production at Spence, following first production at the Spence growth option in December last year.
Metallurgical coal production was down 1% year-on-year, to 40.6-million tonnes, but up 23% in the June quarter, to 11.8-million tonnes, as increased production from the Queensland coal operation was reported, reflecting stronger underlying operational performances, including the record production at Goonyella.
Energy coal production was down 17% in the full year, to 19.3-million tonnes, but up 31% in the quarter, to 6.3-million tonnes, as higher volumes were reported at the New South Wales operations, due to record wash plant performance and lower strip ratios.
Nickel production in the full 2021 was up 11%, to 89 000 t, while June quarter production was up 10% on the March quarter, to 22 400 t, on the back of planned maintenance being undertaken in the previous quarter.