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Record production volumes for BHP


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BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam operation achieved record material mined for the December 2013 half year.

The major miner’s copper production at the mine also benefited from improved smelter reliability during the December 2013 quarter, although planned maintenance is expected to impact the smelter in the second half of the 2014 financial year, the company’s quarterly production report says.

The report, posted on the stock exchange today, said copper production at Olympic Dam for the 2014 financial year is expected to be in line with the prior period.

BHP’s second-quarter iron ore production hit a new record but was slightly lower than analysts expected, due to productivity gains and the opening of new mines.

December quarter iron ore production was 48.9 million tonnes, a 16 per cent lift on the 42.2 million tonnes in the previous corresponding period.

Bloomberg analysts expected BHP’s share of second-quarter iron ore production would rise to 49.4 million tonnes.

BHP said it remained on track to achieve its 2014 financial year production guidance of 192 million tonnes for iron ore.

Petroleum production was 57.7 million barrels of oil equivalent in the December quarter, while copper production was 439,900 tonnes.

Metallurgical coal production was 11.5 million tonnes and energy coal was 17.8 million tonnes.

Alumina production was 1.4 million tonnes, while aluminum production was 302,000 tonnes.

Chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie said production across the group was up 10 per cent over the six months to December, compared to a year ago.

And he flagged a further 16 per cent increase in production for the two years to the end of the 2015 financial year.

Mackenzie said production from its Queensland coal business was now running at an annualised rate of 68 million tonnes, thanks to productivity gains.

“Our productivity continues to improve and this was most clearly demonstrated by our Queensland Coal business,” he said.

Production started at six major projects over the half year, including the Jimblebar iron ore mine in Western Australia, contributing to the record volumes.

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