BHP’s total iron ore production for the September 2017 quarter decreased by 3% to 56 million t, or 64 million t on a 100% basis. The miner’s guidance for the 2018 financial year remains unchanged at between 239 – 243 million t, or between 275 – 280 million t on a 100% basis, with volumes weighted to the last three quarters of the year.
WAIO production for the September 2017 quarter was lower, as the company expected. Record production at Jimblebar was more than offset by the impact of lower opening stockpile levels, following the fire at the Mt Whaleback screening plant in June 2017, and planned maintenance in the September 2017 quarter. Mine productivity improved in the quarter as a result of increased plant availability and consistent feed rates. Stockpile levels have been rebuilt and are expected to be partially drawn down in the next quarter. Port de-bottlenecking activities will extend into the December 2017 quarter. BHP continues to work with the relevant authorities in relation to the necessary approvals to increase system capacity to 290 million tpy (100% basis).
Mining and processing operations at Samarco remain suspended following the failure of the Fundão tailings dam and Santarém water dam on 5 November 2015.
The mining giant’s total copper production for the September 2017 quarter increased by 14% to 404 000 t. BHP’S guidance for the 2018 financial year remains unchanged at between 1655 and 1790 t.
Escondida copper production for the September 2017 quarter increased by 23% to 268 000 t, supported by the start-up of the Los Colorados Extension (LCE) project on 10 September 2017 and higher average copper grade and throughput. LCE is expected to ramp-up to full capacity during the December 2017 quarter, enabling utilisation of the three concentrators, and support copper production of between 1130 and 1230 t in the 2018 financial year.
Pampa Norte copper production for the September 2017 quarter decreased by 7%to 58 000 t, despite record material mined at Cerro Colorado and record ore milled at Spence. According to BHP, the decrease was mainly due to unplanned maintenance at Spence’s tank house during the quarter. Pampa Norte copper production for the 2018 financial year is expected to be higher than the previous year.
Olympic Dam copper production increased by 3% to 42 000 t with first ore achieved from the high-grade Southern Mining Area in the September 2017 quarter. Copper production of 150 000 t is expected in the 2018 financial year as a major smelter maintenance campaign is undertaken.
Antamina copper production for the September 2017 quarter increased by 5% to 36 000 t due to higher head grades. Copper production of approximately 125 000 t is expected in the 2018 financial year as mining continues through a zinc-rich ore zone consistent with the mine plan. Zinc production of approximately 100 000 t is expected for the 2018 financial year.