BHP'S IRON ORE OUTPUT AT RECORD HIGH, COPPER PRODUCTION DROPS

BHP'S IRON ORE OUTPUT AT RECORD HIGH, COPPER PRODUCTION DROPS

DESPITE a fall in BHP's copper output, the company announced today record production of 118 million tonnes of iron ore for the last six months of 2016, up four per cent from the previous year.

"We have performed well during a period of higher prices, with record iron ore volume achieved in Western Australia Iron Ore," says chief executive of BHP, Andrew Mackenzie. 

"Our simpler organisational structure has freed our assets to focus on what matters most and to deliver safer and more productive operations.

"Our consistent delivery of operating and capital productivity, and strict adherence to our capital allocation framework have positioned us to maximise shareholder value."

The company's stock lifted on the news. At 2.00 pm AEST, shares in BHP were up  2.4 per cent from close of trade yesterday at $27.01 per share.

BHP's iron ore results were tempered by the company lowering its copper production guidance for FY17 from 1.7 million tonnes to 1.62 million tonnes.

In the second half of 2016, copper output declined by seven per cent to 712,000 tonnes.

The company's copper output was hampered by unplanned maintenance interruptions and power outages. In particular, the extensive South Australian blackouts in September 2016 caused production from the Olympic Dam mine to be 22,000 tonnes lower than originally forecasted.

Petroleum production for the last six months of 2016 also declined by 15 per cent to 106 MMboe due to lower US demand, although such production levels were in line with BHP's expectations. 

The mining giant has plans to accelerate its oil exploration efforts for the remainder of this financial year. This will include a $US820 million expenditure program following its successful bid of the promising Trion oilfield in Mexico as well as positive drilling results at LeClerc in Trinidad and Tobago and Caicos in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company says it is not yet in a position to provide any update on the potential financial impacts the Samarco dam failure will have on BHP Billiton Brasil.

Earlier this month, BHP and joint venture partner Vale reached a preliminary agreement with Brazilian prosecutors to settle the $47.5 billion civil claim over the dam failure which led to 19 deaths and significant environmental damage.  Operations at the Samarco facility remain closed.

The company will provide its half year results on February 21.

Business News Australia

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