Mining giant BHP (ASX:BHP)
have announced a record production achieved at Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) and Goonyella. Olympic Dam achieved both the highest annual copper production since the acquisition by BHP in 2005 and the highest gold production ever for the operation. Escondida maintained average concentrator throughout, at record levels despite a challenging operating environment in Chile as a result of impacts from Covid-19.
Petroleum production for the 2021 financial year was slightly above guidance. Full year production guidance for copper, iron ore, metallurgical coal and nickel were delivered, as was revised guidance for energy coal.
Full year unit cost guidance is expected to be achieved for WAIO, Escondida and Queensland Coal based on exchange rates of AUD/USD 0.70 and USD/CLP 769. Petroleum unit costs are expected to be slightly better than guidance. New South Wales Energy Coal (NSWEC) unit costs are expected to be marginally above guidance.
During the year, the company successfully achieved first production at four major development projects, all of which were delivered on or ahead of schedule and on budget. The South Flank iron ore project in Western Australia and the Ruby oil and gas project in Trinidad and Tobago both achieved first production in May 2021. The Atlantis Phase 3 petroleum project and the Spence Growth Option copper project achieved first production in the first half of the 2021 financial year.
In exploration, BHP have continued to add to their early stage options in future facing commodities throughout the year, with the signing of an agreement for a nickel exploration alliance in Canada and of a farm-in agreement for the Elliott copper project in Australia. At Oak Dam in South Australia, next stage resource definition drilling to inform future design commenced in May 2021.
Shares in BHP (ASX:BHP)
are trading 2.1 per cent lower $49.44.