BHP’s nickel and copper production rose by 9pc and 1pc to 20.9mn mt and 425,000mt, respectively, in March ending quarter (Q3 2020) from the prior-year period. The company’s iron ore production increased by 7pc to 60,030mt in the period.
BHP produced 425,000mt of copper in Q3, up by 1pc from the prior-year period, but down by 7pc from the preceding quarter.
Copper production at Escondida increased by 8pc to 290,000mt driven by ongoing improvements to machinery. The company’s guidance for Escondida for 2020 remained unchanged between 1,160,000-1,230,000mt.
Olympic Dam produced 38,000mt of copper in the period, down by 24pc from the same period in 2019 followed by Pampa Norte with copper production at 64,000mt, down by 4pc from the prior-year period. The drop in Olympic Dam’s output was driven by replacement of the refinery crane and unplanned downtime at the smelter. The company has lowered its guidance for Olympic Dam to 170,000mt, while for Pampa Norte, the guidance remained unchanged at between 230,000-250,000mt.
Copper production at Antamina declined by 5pc to 33,000,000mt as the mine operated with a reduced workforce on the back of COVID-19 outbreak. The mine, subsequently halted operations on April 14 in compliance with the government guidelines. The timeframe for the resumption of operations is presently uncertain.
BHP’s Antamina zinc production was up by 52pc in Q3 to 31,789mt from the prior-year quarter and up by 41pc from the December ending quarter.
BHP produced 60,000mt of iron ore in the period, up by 7pc from the prior-year period. Western Australia Iron Ore’s (WAIO) production rose by 7pc to 68,000mt in the quarter. The company’s guidance remains unchanged between 273,000-286,000mt.
Nickel production during the period increased by 9pc to 20.9mn mt from the prior-year period and up by 53pc from Q2. In the December quarter, output had declined due to major quadrennial maintenance shutdowns at the Kwinana refinery and the Kalgoorlie smelter and planned routine maintenance at the concentrators. Operations, however, ramped up during the March 2020 quarter.
BHP’s nickel production guidance has been lowered to 80,000-83,000mt from the previous 87,000mt due to extended shutdown adhering to the safety guidelines to slow the spread of the virus.