BHP Billiton iron ore output hit by Mount Whaleback fire


BHP Billiton iron ore output hit by Mount Whaleback fire

Published Date: 2017-10-19 | Source: Stephen Gunnion | Author: Stephen Gunnion

BHP Billiton iron ore output hit by Mount Whaleback fire

The world's biggest miner still expects to reach its full-year production target

BHP Billiton says it achieved its first production from the Los Colorados Extension project at Escondida in Chile and the Olympic Dam Southern Mining Area in South Australia in the September quarter, while the Caval Ridge Southern Circuit project in Australia's Queensland state is progressing to plan, as are all its major projects currently under development.

In an operational review yesterday, the world's biggest mining company said increased volumes at Escondida, supported by the start-up of Los Colorado's Extension, helped lift copper volumes by 14% during the quarter. Petroleum production fell 8% compared to a year earlier due to natural field decline, as well as the impact of Hurricane Harvey during the quarter. While it saw improved mine productivity and record iron ore production at its Jimblebar mine in Western Australia, this was offset by planned maintenance and lower opening stockpile levels following a fire at the Mount Whaleback mine in June, leaving total production 3% lower. Production of metallurgical coal was flat over the quarter, while energy coal declined 2% due to bad weather at its Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia. CEO Andrew Mackenzie says the group remains on track to deliver 7% volume growth for the full year.

Related article: BHP Billiton eyes a shale sale as it benefits from higher commodity prices

Although the group's US operated rig count rose to nine from five over the quarter, it still plans to divest from the US shale oil assets it doesn't consider core to its portfolio. It said divestment of a small portion of the Hawkville acreage in Texas proceeded during the quarter, with work underway to exit its remaining onshore US assets for value.

The company's shares closed 0.35% lower at R250.

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