bhpBHP recently published its mid-year production report. Western Australian Iron Ore (WAIO) production for the second half of 2023 was down 2% compared to the first half of 2023. Copper production on the other hand rose 7%. Production from the company’s main coal segment, the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), decreased 17% to 11.3 million metric tons (mt), which was attributed to significant planned maintenance and low starting inventories.

Low nickel prices are affecting the company’s Nickel West operations. “We are evaluating options to mitigate the impacts of the sharp fall in nickel prices,” BHP CEO Mike Henry said.

The lower production figure for WAIO was due to the continued tie-in activity for the Rail Technology Program (RTP1), and the impacts of the ongoing ramp up of the Central Pilbara hub (South Flank and Mining Area C). “South Flank is on track to ramp up to full production capacity of 80 million mt/y by the end of FY24,” Henry said. “A planned tie-in of the Port Debottlenecking Project is on track to be completed in 2024, following commissioning on December 7, 2023.” WAIO production guidance for FY24 remains unchanged at between 250 and 260 million mt.

Total copper production increased by 7% to 894,000 mt. Copper guidance for FY24 remains unchanged at between 1.72 million mt and 1.91 million mt.

In Chile, production at Escondida increased 3% to 528,000 mt during H2 2023. The increase in production was primarily due to a higher feed grade.

Production at Spence increased 4% to a half-year record of 127,000, but overall production at Pampa Norte decreased by 6% to 138,000 mt during H2 2023. Concentrator modifications that began in August 2022 are expected to be completed in FY24. “We approved an incremental $570 million in sustaining capital to progress remediation of previously identified anomalies in the Spence Tailings Storage Facility (TSF),” Henry said. “These plans have been developed with the Engineer of Record, Independent Tailings Review Board and expert consultants. This is the first stage to remediate the TSF.” Cerro Colorado was placed on temporary care and maintenance in December 2023 after producing 11,000 mt in H2 2023.

BHP continues to advance its growth agenda. “Ongoing construction of the Jansen mine in Canada and the sanction of Jansen Stage 2 will double our planned potash production capacity,” Henry said. “In South Australia, we successfully integrated our Copper SA business and significant exploration drilling beneath Olympic Dam has identified attractive copper mineralization above 1% grade along a 2 km strike, with areas above 2%.”