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Olympic Dam owner posts record profits


Global mining giant BHP has reported record profits with underlying earnings of $57 billion, boosted by higher copper prices and a strong finish to the financial year by SA’s Olympic Dam mine.

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The 16 per cent rise in earnings for the financial year come on the back of reduced debt, with BHP announcing it will pay a record final dividend of $US1.75 ($A2.79) a share, taking the total dividend for a full year to $US3.25 a share.

Release of the strong full year results follow South Australian copper and nickel miner Oz Minerals last week knocking back a takeover bid from BHP, with the Oz Minerals board saying a $8b offer was undervalued and not in the best interests of shareholders.

BHP chief executive officer Mike Henry said his company recorded record free cash flow of US$24.3 billion and reduced debt over the financial year.

“BHP enters the 2023 financial year in great shape strategically, operationally and financially, and well prepared to manage an uncertain near-term environment,” Henry said.

“During the year we unified BHP’s corporate structure, merged our Petroleum business with Woodside, completed the sales of our interests in the BMC and Cerrejon energy coal assets, and decided to retain and operate our New South Wales Energy Coal business until mine closure in 2030.”

Olympic Dam’s strong performance followed the completion of a smelter maintenance campaign with full ramp up completed in April, which created 1,500 jobs in addition to BHP’s regular workforce of around 8,000 employees and contractors.

Following the campaign, Olympic Dam had its third-highest quarter of production since BHP bought the operation in 2005.

At the same time, BHP said it is continuing next stage resource definition drilling at its Oak Dam copper, gold and uranium mine in northern South Australia with six drill rigs, after commencing the program in May 2021.

In a statement, BHP said its strong financial 2022 reflected higher coal and copper prices.

Henry said “strong operational performance and disciplined cost control” allowed the miner to capture the value of strong commodity prices.

“BHP enters the 2023 financial year in great shape strategically, operationally and financially, and well prepared to manage an uncertain near-term environment,” he said.

“We are pursuing options to deliver greater value for shareholders by growing the business and our exposure to future facing commodities.”

BHP had earlier paid an in-specie dividend of $US3.83 for each BHP share held following the merger of its petroleum division with energy giant Woodside, taking the total payout to shareholders for the year to about $US36 billion.

Henry said the company expected China to emerge as a source of stability for commodity demand in the year ahead.

“At the same time, we expect to see a slowdown in advanced economies as monetary policy tightens, as well as ongoing geopolitical uncertainty and inflationary pressures,” he said.

“The direct and indirect impacts of Europe’s energy crisis are a particular point of concern. Tight labour markets will remain a challenge for global and local supply chains. Waves of COVID-19 infection continue to occur in the communities where we operate, and we are planning accordingly.”

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