BHP to decide on future of nickel business by August, trims met coal estimates

Nickel West headquarters. (Image courtesy of BHP.)

BHP Group on Thursday said it expects to announce the fate of its Western Australian nickel operations by August, while it trimmed fiscal 2024 output estimates from its Queensland coal operations, reflecting significant wet weather impacts.

The world’s largest listed miner continues to review plans for its Western Australian nickel operations while focusing on preserving cash.

Nickel prices have slumped due to a jump in lower cost supply from Indonesia, casting a shadow over prospects for nickel production elsewhere around the globe such as in high cost Australia. BHP put the operations under review at its half-year results in February.

“In Western Australia, we expect to announce a decision on the future of our nickel business in the coming months, where efforts to optimise operations and preserve value are underway,” CEO Mike Henry said.

The global miner now expects to produce between 21.5 million tons (Mt) and 22.5 Mt of metallurgical coal in fiscal 2024 from its assets in the Bowen Basin in Queensland that it owns with Mitsubishi.

The lowered outlook compares to previous expectations of between 23 Mt to 25 Mt of metallurgical coal output reflecting impact of two tropical cyclones and operational challenges, BHP said.

The firm reported a rise in third-quarter iron ore output amid a continued ramp-up of its South Flank mine and improved operational efficiencies in Pilbara which helped offset wet weather impact.

The South Flank mine is on track to ramp up to full production capacity of 80 millions of tonnes per annum on a 100% basis by the end of fiscal 2024.

BHP’s iron ore production from mines it operates in Western Australia on a 100% basis was 68.1 million tonnes (Mt) during the three months ended March 31, a 3% rise compared with 66.2 Mt produced a year earlier.

(By Rishav Chatterjee and Roushni Nair; Editing by Maju Samuel)


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