BHP has reported that production guidance for the 2022 financial year remains unchanged for iron ore, energy coal and nickel. Full year total copper production is trending towards the low end of the guidance range, reflecting lower production guidance for Pampa Norte. Metallurgical coal guidance has been reduced as a result of significant wet weather impacts and COVID-19 related labour constraints.
Full year unit cost guidance for WAIO, Escondida and NSWEC remains unchanged. Unit cost guidance for Queensland Coal has been increased, reflecting lower expected volumes for the full year.
Progress on the review of BHP lower grade metallurgical coal and thermal coal assets continues. The Cerrejon divestment to Glencore completed in January 2022 and the announced share sale agreement to divest BHP Mitsui Coal (BMC) is expected to complete in the middle of the 2022 calendar year.
WAIO achieved near record production for the half year and Escondida achieved record material mined, notwithstanding the impacts of significant wet weather and the COVID-19 Omicron variant on some operations.
BHP’s potash major projects under development are tracking to plan. The Jansen shaft project is 98% complete and the Jansen Stage 1 project has commenced contract awards.
BHP announced a final decision to unify BHP’s corporate structure under its existing Australian parent company, BHP Group Limited. Subject to shareholder approval and UK Court sanction, unification is expected to complete by 31 January 2022.
Completion of the proposed merger of our Petroleum business with Woodside is expected in the June 2022 quarter subject to satisfaction of conditions precedent including approval by Woodside shareholders. The half year financial results are being prepared on the basis that the Petroleum business is a discontinued operation and restated financial information for the year ended 30 June 2021 and the half year ended 31 December 2020.
BHP Chief Executive Officer, Mike Henry, said: We completed major planned maintenance programs in our Iron Ore, Nickel West and Olympic Dam assets. In Nickel West, we achieved first saleable production of nickel sulphate crystals from the Kwinana plant, an exciting new addition to our product suite that will further enhance our offering into the battery electric vehicle market. The ramp-up of South Flank continues to progress well. The Spence Growth project is realising lower than expected recoveries and we are studying plant design modifications in order to lift recoveries to planned levels.
We continued to progress a number of actions related to our portfolio and corporate structure. We progressed the merger of our petroleum assets with Woodside and prepared for a shareholder vote on a unified corporate structure. We advanced the Jansen potash project and announced a share sale agreement of our interest in the BHP Mitsui Coal metallurgical coal joint venture. We bolstered options in future facing commodities investing in prospective copper assets in the Northern Territory and South Australia and we secured an early stage entry into a world-scale nickel sulphide resource in Tanzania.
Overall we made good progress in positioning our portfolio and performance to deliver returns for shareholders now and into the future.”