BHP Billiton Achieves Record Production in Iron Ore, Coal and Petroleum
BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) is continuing to impress investors. The Australian company posted record production output in three commodities -- iron ore, coal and petroleum --for the second quarter of June, as well as boosting its guidance for the year.
BHP achieved production of 225 million tons of iron ore for the quarter, up 19 percent from the same period last year. The company is now expected to produce 245 million tons in the current 2015 financial year.
Investors responded confidently to production reports as shares for BHP hit a four-month high of $39.22 on the Australian Securities Exchange. It’s the 14th consecutive year BHP has recorded higher-than-expected production numbers.
“Our focus on productivity has resulted in a significant improvement in operating performance at each of our major businesses this year, with a nine per cent increase in group production and record output at 12 operations,” chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said.
BHP also increased its metallurgical coal by nine percent in the quarter to 11.89 million tons. Despite a 20 percent fall in prices for hard coking coal, the company improved its full year production to 45.08 million tons, beating its guidance of 43.5 million tons.
“Western Australia Iron Ore and Queensland Coal annual production exceeded guidance, with both rising by more than 20 per cent as we delivered more tons from existing infrastructure and growth projects ahead of schedule,” said Mackenzie.
BHP rounded out the trifecta by increasing its petroleum production by nine percent to a record 64.7 million barrels in the June quarter. The company produced 246 million barrels for the year, squeezing by it guidance of 245 million barrels.
"In petroleum, we are investing in our highest-return acreage while a broader improvement in productivity is expected to underpin stronger iron ore, copper and metallurgical coal volumes," said Mackenzie.
"We will remain focused on value over volume as we prioritize our brownfield development options and consider the next phase of portfolio simplification."
According to BHP, the end of the 2014 financial year, it had eight projects under development with a combined budget of $14.1 billion.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.