Australian miner BHP’s copper production was up by 2pc to 1.72mn mt in the fiscal year ending June 2020 (FY20). Production however dipped to 414,000mt in Q4 as compared to prior quarter.
The company’s Escondida and Olympic Dam’s higher production was offset by lower production at Peru’s Antamina mine which was shut temporarily due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Zinc production in FY20 fell by 10pc to 88,462mt from the prior year. In Q4, production slipped by 57pc to 13,736mt from the prior quarter.
Operations in Chile
The company’s Chilean operations, Escondida, ran at a reduced operational workforce of 35pc that is not expected to change till September quarter. Escondida copper production at Chile however rose by 4pc to 1.18mn mt with record June quarter throughput. Production between 940,000mt and 1,030,000mt is expected for the 2021 financial year, with a decline in copper grade of concentrator feed of approximately 4pc.
Production levels will be impacted for the entire FY21. Guidance of an annual 1.2mn mt is reported by the company for Escondida mine.
Pampa Norte, also in Chile, registered a decrease in copper production by 2pc to 243,000mt, with strong operating performance being offset by grade decline of approximately 14pc. Production guidance for FY21 is expected to be between 240,000 – 270,000mt, reflecting the reduced operational workforce due to COVID-19.
Operations in Australia
At Olympic Dam, production expanded by 7pc to 172,000mt driven by solid underground mine performance with strong development metres achieved, record grade and the prior period acid plant outage.
Production guidance for FY21 is expected to increase to between 180,000- 205,000mt. Production for the 2022 financial year is expected to be lower as a result of the major smelter maintenance campaign planned for the first half of the year.
Nickel and iron ore
The company posted a 9pc decline in annual nickel output to 80,000mt. In Q4 however, nickel production was up 14pc to 24,000mt compared to prior quarter.
Iron ore production in FY20 climbed 4pc up at 248mn mt and up by 11pc from prior quarter to 66mn mt.
At the end of the fiscal year, BHP had major six projects under development in copper, petroleum, iron ore and potash of which iron ore and petroleum are on track. BHP is taking COVID-19 impacts into consideration that caused temporary reduction in the construction activities in the company.
COVID-19 cases were very few in company’s Australia workforce. In South America, infection rate was higher, resulting in lockdowns that led to in lower production. The company has adequate supplies to operate, said officials, as alternative suppliers have been identified.