BHP shoots the lights out

BHP Billiton's third quarter production figures, released today shows the world's number one miner rapid rate of expansion continues unabated.

The Anglo-Australian giant increased overall output by 9% during the quarter to end-September with records achieved for eight operations and four commodities.

BHP, which is in the process of spinning off non-core assets into a $15 billion standalone company, is also sticking to its production guidance and is on track to deliver group-wide production growth of 16% over the two years to the end of the 2015 financial year.

With prices of three of BHP's core commodities – iron ore, met coal and oil – tanking this year, volume growth is clearly the way to go:

  • Metallurgical coal production increased by 25% to 13 Mt as Queensland Coal achieved record quarterly production and sales volumes.
  • Western Australia Iron Ore production increased by 15% to a quarterly record of 62 Mt (100% basis) as the ramp-up of Jimblebar continued ahead of schedule and we improved the availability, utilisation and rate of our integrated supply chain.
  • Petroleum production increased by 7% to 67.4 MMboe as Onshore US liquids volumes rose by 49% to a record 11.5 MMboe.

And perhaps the relatively robust copper price (back above $3 a pound today) can be explained by supply disruptions like this one that seems to plague copper mining more than other commodities:

  • Total copper production decreased by 1% to 389 kt as lower ore grades, a power outage throughout Northern Chile and industrial action offset strong underlying operating performance at Escondida.

SEE ALSO: CHART: BHP before and after spin-off