Amid overall increased output, BHP Billiton has announced a 12th first-half iron ore production record in a row, with a portfolio forecast to deliver a combined annual growth rate 10% in copper equivalent to the end of 2014.
In Q4 of 2012, BHP Billiton increased its Western Australian iron ore output by 3%, compared with to 42.2 million metric tons (mt) in Q4 2011, bringing the half-year total to 82 million mt.
BHP continues to forecast 183 million mt of iron ore for 2013, with annual port capacity increasing to 220 million mt. The company says its Queensland coal mines were nearing full capacity toward the end of Q4, lowering production costs while increasing profits.
BHP officials say that in Q4 2012 metallurgical coal production increased 5% over the same period in 2011. BHP further noted record production at its New South Wales thermal coal mines. Thermal coal output was up 8% for Q4, despite outages at two U.S. mines.
Copper concentrate production at its Escondida copper mine in Chile increased by 70% in the six months ending in December, compared with the same period in 2011; overall production was anticipated up 20% as opposed to the same half year in 2011.
Olympic Dam copper production fell in the last half of 2012 due to a planned smelter outage but overall, the company’s copper output was up 5% for Q4. Uranium production increased 12%, meanwhile, thanks to Olympic Dam recoveries.