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Copper drives big profits for BHP, Oz Minerals


BHP has announced a A$7.3 billion attributable profit for the first half of the 2020 financial year, up 29 per cent on the same period last year, netting shareholders the second highest dividend in the company’s history.

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It will payout A$4.9 billion in interim dividends to its shareholders, equating to 96 cents per share.

The company’s lucrative copper production grew by 7 per cent to 885 kilotonnes, helping to drive the lift in profit.

BHP owns the world’s largest copper mine, Escondida in Chile, and also produces significant amounts of copper at Olympic Dam in South Australia and at other mines in Chile and Peru.

It also has iron ore, coal and nickel mines, mainly in Australia, and several offshore oil and gas assets in Australia and the Gulf of Mexico.

Iron ore production was up 2 per cent but petroleum, coal and nickel production were all down on the previous year.

BHP chief executive officer Mike Henry announced the result to the Australian Securities Exchange this morning and said the strong set of results were grounded in solid cashflow and operational performance.

“BHP is in good shape,” he said.

“We have passionate and committed people hungry to perform.

“From these strong foundations, we will build on our momentum to deliver exceptional performance. I intend for BHP to be unquestionably the industry’s best operator – safer, lower cost, more reliable and more productive – with our portfolio and capabilities fit for the future.”

BHP announced in November 2018 it had made a huge copper/gold discovery at Oak Dam West, 65km south of its Olympic Dam operation.

It told the ASX this morning that the third phase of drilling at Oak Dam was underway with completion expected in the June quarter

Adelaide-based miner Oz Minerals also released its full-year report for 2019 this morning, announcing an after tax profit of $164 million on net revenue of $1.1 billion.

Chief executive Andrew Cole said the strong financial performance was underpinned by the consistent performance of its Prominent Hill copper gold project in South Australia, creating a solid foundation for it to ramp up production at its copper gold projects at Carrapateena in South Australia and Carajas in Brasil this year.

“Prominent Hill delivered a fifth consecutive year of meeting or exceeding copper production guidance,” he said.

“Whilst 2020 will be a transition year for Oz Minerals as we ramp-up production at Carrapateena, our strong operating cash position and balance sheet, combined with the board’s confidence in our project pipeline has enabled a final fully franked dividend of 15 cents per share to be declared.”

Oz Minerals produced its first saleable copper concentrate from Carrapateena in December and expects to ramp up to full production by the middle of 2021.

Last week it also released a pre-feasibility study into its West Musgrave project in Western Australia showing the Nebo-Babel deposit has the potential to produce 28,000 tonnes of copper and 22,000 tonnes of nickel a year for 26 years.

The project is a joint venture between Adelaide-based OZ Minerals (70 per cent) and Perth-based explorer Cassini Resources (30 per cent). If it goes ahead, the mine would be the first in the broader West Musgrave province, which is in Western Australia not far from its border with South Australia and the Northern Territory.

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