BHP – total copper production decreased by nine percent

BHP, in its Group Operational Review for the Quarter Ended 30 September 2021, stated that total copper production decreased by nine per cent to 377 kt. Guidance for the 2022 financial year remains unchanged at between 1,590 and 1,760 kt, with production weighted to the second half of the financial year.

In the September 2021 quarter, the operating environment for our Chilean assets improved due to high COVID-19 vaccination rates. However, some uncertainty related to COVID-19 impacts remains as the pandemic evolves.

Escondida copper production decreased by 14 per cent to 244 kt due to forecast concentrator feed grade decline. Guidance for the 2022 financial year remains unchanged at between 1,000 and 1,080kt. Decline in concentrator feed grade is expected to be approximately two per cent for the year. Medium term guidance of an annual average of 1.2 Mt of copper production over the next five years remains unchanged, with production expected to be weighted towards the latter years.

Pampa Norte copper production increased by 59 per cent to 68 kt, reflecting the continued ramp-up of the Spence Growth Option (SGO), which has brought on a new concentrate stream. Guidance for the 2022 financial year remains unchanged at between 330 and 370 kt with the new stream of concentrate production at Spence partially offset by a forecast decline in stacking grade at Pampa Norte of approximately 10 per cent. The ramp up to full production capacity at SGO is expected to be complete by December 2021, following which Spence is forecast to average 300 ktpa of production (including cathodes) over the first four years of operation.

Olympic Dam copper production decreased by 43 per cent to 30 kt, reflecting the ramp down and commencement of the major smelter maintenance campaign, approximately one month later than plan due to COVID-19 border restrictions impacting the availability of workforce. The maintenance campaign is expected to complete towards the end of the December 2021 quarter, followed by a ramp up to full capacity by March 2022. Guidance for the 2022 financial year remains unchanged at between 140 and 170 kt.

Antamina copper production increased by three per cent to 36 kt and zinc production decreased by three per cent to 33 kt, reflecting higher copper and lower zinc head grades. Guidance remains unchanged for the 2022 financial year, with copper production of between 120 and 140 kt, and zinc production of between 115 and 130 kt.

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