Global mining giant BHP has narrowed its copper production guidance for the current financial year FY21 (July 2020-June 2021) between 1.54mn mt to 1.65mn mt from the original guidance of 1.48mn mt to 1.64mn mt, the company said in its latest quarterly report.
Total copper production
BHP’s total copper production in H1 FY21 (July 1, 2020-Dec 31, 2020) stood at 841,000mt, down by 5pc from the same period in the prior year due to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the second quarter ending on Dec 31, 2020 (Q2 FY21), the company’s copper output stood at 428,000mt, down by 6pc from the same period in the prior year but grew by 4pc from the previous quarter.
The company said that output from its Chilean assets declined due to a reduction in workforce by 30pc owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Escondida mine’s copper output fell by 5pc in H1 FY21 to 572,000mt from the same period in the prior year. The company has narrowed its FY21 guidance for the mine to between 970,000mt and 1.03mn mt from 940,000mt -1.03mn mt.
The company said that production at the mine is likely to be affected in FY22 due to a reduction in the movement of material in FY2021. The mine’s copper production guidance of 1.2mn mt over the next five years has remained unchanged.
Pampa Norte mine’s copper output in H1 FY21 stood at 97,000mt, down by 22pc due to planned maintenance at Spence and
the impact of a reduced operational workforce due to COVID-19 preventative measures.
The guidance for the mine remains unchanged between 240,000mt and 270,000mt.
The Spence Growth Option (SGO) produced the first copper in December 2020 after optimization. Its first copper sales are expected in the March 2021 quarter (Q3 FY21), while ramp-up to achieve full production capacity is expected to take approximately 12 months.
Olympic Dam mine
BHP’s copper production at Olympic Dam mine in H1 FY21 grew by 16pc to 99,000mt from the same period in the previous fiscal year, reflecting improved smelter stability and strong underground mine performance.
The mine’s copper output guidance for the FY21 has remained unchanged at 180,000mt-205,000mt.
The company is expecting production at the mine during the next fiscal year (FY22) to be lower due to smelter maintenance work planned in the H1 FY22.
Antamina mine’s copper production in H1 FY21 stood at 73,000mt, down by 1pc from the prior-year period, while mine’s zinc output rose by 78pc to 76,000mt, achieving a record output in the period.
The mine’s copper and zinc guidance for FY21 remain unchanged at 120,000mt-140,000mt and 140,000mt-160,000mt, respectively.
Iron ore production
BHP’s total iron ore production in H1 FY21 stood at 128mn mt, up by 6pc from the same period in the previous year.
The company has increased its iron ore output guidance for the current fiscal year at between 245mn mt and 255mn mt from the previous guidance of 244mn mt-253mn mt due to resumption of production at Samarco.
Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO)’s production during the period stood at 128mn mt (145mn mt on a 100pc basis), up by 6pc due to record production at Jimblebar and strong performance across the supply chain.
Production in Q3 FY21 is expected to be impacted by planned ore handling plant maintenance across the mines and continued Mining Area C and South Flank tie-in activity.
The guidance at WAIO for FY21 remains unchanged at between 244mn mt-253mn mt (276mn mt and 286mn mt on a 100pc basis).
The company resumed production at Samarco in December 2020 after meeting the licensing requirements to restart operations at the Germano complex in Minas Gerais and Ubu complex in Espírito Santo, Brazil.
Iron ore production at Samarco for FY21 is expected to be between 1mn mt-2mn mt. Its production capacity is expected to reach 8mn mt per annum once it has been fully ramped-up.
BHP’s Nickel West project’s nickel production rose by 31pc to 46,000mt. The company has kept the nickel output guidance at between 85,000mt to 95,000mt.
In Q2, the company’s nickel output stood at 24,000mt, up by 75.2pc from the same period last year and by 8.1pc from Q1 FY21.