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BHP ups copper guidance

Kitco News

BHP Billiton said today that its copper guidance has increased to between 1,535 kt and 1,660 kt for the 2021 financial year reflecting a stronger than expected performance at Escondida.

The diversified miner released its nine-month operational update today.

Total copper production decreased by six per cent to 1,233 kt compared to the same six months a year prior. The miner said COVID-19 hampered production.

Total iron ore production increased by four per cent to 188 Mt. Guidance for the 2021 financial year remains unchanged at between 245 and 255 Mt. Volumes are expected to be in the upper half of the guidance range as a result of strong performance at WAIO.

Nickel West production increased by 19 per cent to 67 kt as a result of major quadrennial maintenance shutdowns in the prior period and strong performance from the new mines. Production for the March 2021 quarter was impacted by the planned maintenance undertaken at the Kwinana refinery during the quarter. Guidance for the 2021 financial year remains unchanged at between 85 and 95 kt.

The company said it has four major projects underway with a budget of $8.5 billion over the life of the projects. Regarding its stalled Resolution Copper Mining project in the U.S., the company said it is resolved to "...to further consultation with local communities and Native American tribes in an effort to seek consent, as it continues to study the project."

BHP expects to make a decision about its Jansen Stage 1 potash project in Canada by the middle of the year.

CEO Mike Henry touted several ESG initiatives.

"BHP continues to deliver on decarbonising, in line with the Paris Agreement goals. We have established emissions reduction partnerships with three major steelmakers in China and Japan whose combined output equates to around 10 per cent of global steel production. In shipping, we have successfully completed an initial trial of marine biofuels, in addition to the tender awarded last year for LNG-powered iron ore vessels. In our own operations, we have established significant renewable power supply agreements for our Kwinana nickel refinery, Queensland Coal operations, and Escondida and Spence copper mines," said Henry in a news release.

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