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Major BHP announced that it had met its full year production targets for iron-ore, metallurgical coal and its operated copper and energy coal assets, despite impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“BHP safely delivered a strong operational performance in the 2020 financial year, achieving record production in a number of our operations and an improved cost base. This performance, achieved in the face of Covid-19 and other challenges, is a result of the outstanding effort of our people and the support of our communities, governments, customers and suppliers,” said BHP CEO Mike Henry.

Iron-ore production from the Pilbara reached record highs in the full year, wit BHP producing 248-million tonnes in the full year ended June, up by 4% on the previous corresponding period, while quarterly production reached 67-million tonnes, up 11% on the March quarter.

The miner noted that the higher production volumes reflected record quarterly production at Mining Area C and at Yandi, as well as strong supply chain performance coupled with wet weather impacts in the previous quarter.

Petroleum production for the full year was down 10% to 109-million barrels of oil equivalent, but up 5% in the June quarter, to 26-million barrels of oil equivalent.

Petroleum production for the full year was marginally below guidance as a result of lower than expected gas demands due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. BHP reported that increased production at Bass Strait, due to higher seasonal demand, partially offset the lower volumes at the Atlantis operation, due to planned maintenance and preparation work for Phase 3 project commissioning, and lower demand in Trinidad and Tobago.

Copper production for the full year was up 2% on the previous corresponding period, to 1.72-million tonnes, while quarterly production was down 3% on the March quarter, to 414 000 t.

Higher production at the Escondida operation, in Chile, and the Olympic Dam operation, in South Australia, was offset by lower production at the Antamina operation, in Peru, where operations were temporarily suspended owing to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, BHP reported that metallurgical coal production for the full year was down 3%, to 41-million tonnes, but up by 26% in the quarter to 12-million tonnes, while energy coal production in the full year was down 16% to 23-million tonnes, and down 2% in the June quarter to 6-million tonnes.

Nickel production for the full year also declined by 8%, to 80 000 t, but increased by 14% in the June quarter, to 24 000 t, with higher volumes reported following the ramp back up to full capacity at the Kwinana refinery and the Kalgoorlie smelter, in Western Australia, during the prior quarter.

“Our diversified portfolio of high quality assets, together with our strong balance sheet, make us resilient to the ongoing uncertainty in the markets for our commodities,” said Henry.

“We expect to continue to generate solid cash flows through the cycle and we remain confident in the outlook for demand for our products over the medium- to long-term. We continue to focus on becoming even safer, delivering exceptional operational performance, maintaining disciplined capital allocation, creating and securing more options in future facing commodities, and building social value.

“We have learned new ways of working, both internally and with others, through the Covid-19 pandemic. We will seek to embed these in a way that helps to reinforce these priorities,” he added.