BHP Billiton has released its operational review for the nine months ended March 31st, 2014, which showed that the company has managed to maintain and build on the strong momentum from the previous financial year by achieving record production for four commodities and at 10 operations.
“Our productivity agenda continues to deliver outstanding results, underpinning a 10% increase in production so far this year. Having achieved record iron ore and metallurgical coal production during the first nine months of this year, we have raised full-year guidance for both commodities. The strong contribution from our high-margin Gulf of Mexico operations and the predictability of Escondida’s performance is also pleasing. We continue to expect cumulative production growth of 16% over the two years to the end of the 2015 financial year,” BHP Billiton Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Mackenzie, said.
“During the period, the fourth pellet plant at Samarco achieved first production and commissioning at Caval Ridge commenced ahead of schedule. Our newest hard coking coal mine will add to our uniquely diversified and opportunity-rich portfolio of large mining and petroleum operations. Group capital and exploration expenditure remains on track to decline by 25% in the 2014 financial year, before declining again next year. By maintaining strict financial discipline and a focus on our four pillars of Iron Ore, Copper, Coal and Petroleum, we continue to believe that an average rate of return of greater than 20% is achievable for our major development options.”
Strong operation performances, favourable weather conditions and the continued ramp–up of Jimblebar have contributed to the record-breaking production levels at Western Australia Iron Ore of 163 million tonnes, which prompted the company to raise the full-year production guidance by a further 5 million tonnes to 217 million tonnes.
The company’s Queensland Coal operations have also yielded a record-breaking production of 69 million tonnes, underpinning a 24% increase in metallurgical coal production in the nine month period ended March 2014. As a result, total metallurgical coal production guidance for the full year has increased by 2.5 Mt to 43.5 Mt.
According to the media release by BHP, the company’s petroleum production throughout the period increased by 16% to 77 million barrels of oil, supported by a 71% increase at Onshore US.
This significant increase in production coupled with the successful divestment of Liverpool Bay and the remediation activities in the Hawkville area saw the company rebase its production guidance for the 2014 financial year to 245 MMboe.
BHP’s total copper production for the nine months ended March 2014 increased by 2% to 1.3 Mt. Full-year copper production guidance remains unchanged at 1.7 million tonnes, with a strong June 2014 quarter anticipated.