BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) has updated investors on its full-year operations this morning.
Highlights from the company statement:
• Achieved full year production guidance for petroleum and iron ore, with annual production records at Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO), Spence and two Queensland Coal mines.
• Lower copper production reflected the impact of industrial action at Escondida and the power outage and unplanned maintenance at Olympic Dam. Lower metallurgical coal volumes as a result of damage to third party rail infrastructure caused by Cyclone Debbie.
• We expect to achieve full year unit cost guidance at WAIO and Conventional petroleum, however industrial action and Cyclone Debbie have impacted unit costs at Escondida and Queensland Coal respectively.
• Group copper equivalent production expected to increase by 7% in the 2018 financial year.
• In Onshore US, development activity is increasing with up to 10 rigs operating in the 2018 financial year.
• Divestment of non-core Onshore US acreage is progressing, with the sale of a portion of the southern Hawkville anticipated in the September 2017 quarter.
• In Petroleum exploration, drilling of the Wildling-2 appraisal well in the Gulf of Mexico is continuing, with results expected in the September 2017 quarter.
• All major projects under development are tracking to plan.
BHP Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Mackenzie said: "Our people have stepped up to unlock low-cost latent capacity and achieve strong productivity gains across our tier one assets.
Improved productivity led to record annual production at Western Australia Iron Ore, Spence and two Queensland Coal mines while production guidance was achieved by Petroleum and Western Australia Iron Ore. Copper production is expected to rebound strongly in the 2018 financial year with the commissioning of the Escondida Water Supply project and ramp-up of the Los Colorados Extension project during the September 2017 quarter to enable utilisation of Escondida's three concentrators.
In Petroleum, the recently approved Mad Dog phase 2 project will extend low-risk oil volumes as supply tightens while in the near-term, Onshore US development activity is to increase with up to 10 rigs planned for the 2018 financial year.
Our relentless focus on safety, productivity and capital discipline will support strong growth in shareholder value."