BHP posts record annual iron ore production, lower output elsewhere

Credit: BHP

BHP Group Ltd on Tuesday reported full-year iron ore production near the top end of its forecast range, thanks to record output at two mines in Western Australia.

However, the world’s largest listed miner posted a 4% decline in fourth-quarter output, compared with last year, and lower annual production across four of its six major divisions.

BHP notched record output at its Jimblebar mine and Mining Area C in the Pilbara region, as robust Chinese demand and supply issues in Brazil propelled iron ore prices.

The high commodity prices are expected to help BHP post bumper full-year profits in August, alongside rivals Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group.

The global miner produced 284.1 million tonnes of the steel-making material in Western Australia on a 100% basis in fiscal 2021

“Financially they are going to report very well,” said analyst David Lennox of Fat Prophets in Sydney. “We are pleased that they will deliver higher iron ore production into a higher iron ore price and higher nickel into a higher nickel price.”

BHP secured iron ore prices of $158.17 for the June half, double those received for the last financial year.

“Operationally, it’s just satisfactory from our point of view given production of more than half its offerings are on the negative side,” Lennox added.

The global miner produced 284.1 million tonnes (Mt) of the steel-making material in Western Australia on a 100% basis in fiscal 2021, and expects output in 2022 between 278 Mt and 288 Mt. Fourth-quarter output was 72.8 Mt, down from 76 Mt.

Across other divisions, BHP reported an 11% increase in nickel production for the year.

However production from other divisions fell, including a 5% drop in annual copper production given covid-19 related logistical challenges in Chile, where BHP expects conditions to remain challenging.

It logged a 6% decline in petroleum production, metallurgical coal output fell by 1% and energy coal production fell by 17% for the year.

BHP also flagged an increase in operating costs of up to $425 million due to mine closure provisions and a write-off of up to $500 million due to shorter resource lives at its Yandi iron ore mine and Bass Strait petroleum operations.

(By Melanie Burton and Nikhil Kurian Nainan; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Sam Holmes)

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