BHP reports mixed results for copper and iron ore in Q2

The world’s number one miner BHP announced increased copper production but a sharp fall in iron ore output as its overall guidance for 2018 remain unchanged.

Copper production for Q2 was boosted to 404,000 tonnes by better performance at the Escondida mine, rising 23% on the same period last year, and BHP benefitted from an overall copper increase of 14%.

The company said Escondida’s growth was down to the start-up of the Los Colorados Extension project in September and higher average copper grades.

However, positive feelings were tempered by the results from BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) which fell 3% y-o-y to 56,000 tonnes and by 8% compared to Q1 2017.

The output figures were hit by the impact of lower opening stockpile levels, following a fire at the Mt Whaleback screening plant in June and planned maintenance in September.

Mining and processing operations at the Samarco project in Brazil remain sauspended following a catastrophic dam collapse in November 2015.

Andrew Mackenzie, BHP chief executive officer said: “Our performance in the first quarter keeps us on track to deliver 7% volume growth in the 2018 financial year.

“We manage the portfolio for value and returns. Our transition to lower-cost, high-return, latent capacity projects is delivering results, with first copper production achieved from the Los Colorados Extension project at Escondida and Olympic Dam’s Southern Mining Area during the quarter.

“Major development work has commenced on the recently approved growth projects, Mad Dog Phase 2 and the Spence Growth Option, with both set to become operational as their respective markets in oil and copper rebalance.”

The Australian mining giant also highlighted US$43 million of funds had been spent on exploration during the quarter, with $32 million committed to greenfield copper exploration across South America, Canada, South Australia and the Southwest United States.