BHP's copper output to bounce back
BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) announced Tuesday the company exceeded full year 2016 production guidance for petroleum, copper and metallurgical coal, but came in slightly below its iron ore production target.
The suspension of its Samarco joint venture with Vale saw BHP's output on attributable basis miss its revised target by 2 million tonnes at 227 tonnes for the year to end June. The world's number three iron ore producer had previously forecast 237 million tonnes for its financial year.
The Melbourne-based company's total output at its Western Australia iron ore operations in the Pilbara grew by 2% to 257 million tonnes, but was also slightly below previous forecasts. BHP expects to produce 265 million – 275 million tonnes in its 2016/2017 financial year in Australia and 228 million – 237 million tonnes worldwide on an attributable basis excluding Samarco.
Copper production of 1.58 million tonnes also beat guidance but fell 8% compared to 2015 with the company saying increased throughput at Escondida and strong operating performance only partially made up for lower grades at the mine, the world's largest.
For its 2017 financial year the company expects a big boost to copper production to 1.7 million tonnes helped by a 9% jump in output at Escondida, which is 57%-owned and operated by BHP with Rio Tinto holding the remainder.
BHP's coking coal operations output grew slightly at 43 million tonnes as record production at its five Queensland Coal mines more than offset the halting of production at Crinum. The company expects to add one million tonnes for 2017. Coal for power generation continues to be cut back and will shrink 7% this year to 32 million tonnes after falling 16% in 2015.
BHP's petroleum division produced 240 million barrels during the year, down 6% from last year but above guidance of 237 million barrels.