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Mining giant BHP reports copper output down, iron ore up - nine months to March 2021 review

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(Kitco News) - BHP, a world-leading resources company, today announced that its total copper production for the nine months ended March 31, 2021, decreased by six per cent to 1,233 kt.

According to the company’s statement, for the nine months to March 2021, BHP’s Chilean assets continued to operate with a substantial reduction in their operational workforces as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. The operating environment across BHP's Chilean assets is expected to become more challenging in the June 2021 quarter, given escalating COVID-19 infections, increased pressures on Chile’s health system and border restrictions.

BHP’s copper guidance for the 2021 financial year increased to between 1,535 and 1,660 kt from between 1,510 and 1,645 kt, and reflects stronger than expected performance at Escondida.

The company’ total iron ore production increased by four per cent to 188 Mt. The Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) production increased by three per cent to a nine month record 187 Mt (211 Mt on a 100 per cent basis), reflecting record production at Jimblebar and strong performance across the supply chain, with improved train cycle times and car dumper performance and reliability.

BHP’s iron ore 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.

Metallurgical coal production decreased by two per cent to 29 Mt (51 Mt on a 100 per cent basis). Guidance for the 2021 financial year has been reduced to between 39 and 41 Mt (70 and 73 Mt on a 100 per cent basis) from between 40 and 44 Mt (71 and 77 Mt on a 100 per cent basis) as a result of significant wet weather impacts during the December 2020 and March 2021 quarters.

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.

CEO Mike Henry commented, “BHP’s strong safety and operational performance continued during the quarter, with record year-to-date production at Western Australia Iron Ore, the Goonyella Riverside metallurgical coal mine in Queensland and concentrator throughput at Escondida in Chile.”

“We are well positioned to finish the year strongly and continue delivering the essential products the world needs," concluded Henry.

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