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COVID year dents copper production at BHP

Kitco News

Chilean copper production will be challenged into 2022 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The world's largest miner by market capitalization released its operational review for the year ended June 2021.

Copper was down 5% at 1.635.7 kt for the year compared to FY2020 production.

BHP said its Chilean assets operated with a "...substantial reduction in their operational workforces as a result of the preventative measures we implemented to mitigate the impact of COVID-19."

BHP said there is no remedy in sight.

"We expect the operating environment for our Chilean assets to remain challenging, with reductions in our on-site workforce forecast to continue in the 2022 financial year."

BHP is maintaining long-term guidance for copper.

"Guidance of an annual average of 1.2 Mt of copper production over the next five years remains unchanged, with production expected to be weighted towards the latter years."

The problems in Chile were countered by the company's performance of its Olympic Dam mine.

"Olympic Dam in South Australia had its highest annual copper production since BHP acquired the asset in 2005, and its best-ever gold production," wrote the company.

Total iron ore production increased by two per cent to 254 Mt. Production of between 249 and 259 Mt is expected in the 2022 financial year.

Minerals exploration expenditure for the 2021 financial year was US$192 million, of which US$134 million was expensed.

"In exploration, we have continued to add to our early stage options in future facing commodities throughout the year, with the signing of an agreement for a nickel exploration alliance in Canada and of a farm-in agreement for the Elliott copper project in Australia. At Oak Dam in South Australia, next stage resource definition drilling to inform future design commenced in May 2021."

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