BHP cuts iron ore guidance after wild weather impacts mines


RBC Capital Market analyst Ben Wilson said the weaker results were expected.

“On balance, this appears a softer result for BHP relative to our estimates, though the downside risk to iron ore guidance was previously flagged by management,” Mr Wilson said.

He added the higher iron ore price caused by global shortages, coupled with net debt below BHP’s $US10 billion to $US15 billion could result in a special dividend for shareholders.

Despite the impact, BHP has remained positive on its performance and plans to increase its petroleum operations next year.

“During the March 2019 quarter, we had a strong operational performance despite weather impacts across Australia and Chile,” BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said.

“We approved Atlantis Phase 3 and now have five major projects under development.”

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Earlier this year, BHP poured $US696 million in funding into its joint venture Atlantis project with BP.

Atlantis is located in the Gulf of Mexico, about 200 kilometres off the coast of the US, and is expected to produce about 38,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day at its peak.

First oil is expected in 2020.

The Bass Strait West Barracouta gas project, off Victoria, is also tracking to plan, the miner said.

BHP’s copper production dropped by three per cent year on year, although guidance remains unchanged for 2019.

This fall was driven by lower ore grades at its major Escondida mine in Chile, coupled with the impact of heavy rainfall at its other Chilean copper mines in February.

Its Olympic Dam mine, in South Australia, partially offset these losses due to a 22 per cent increase in copper production as a result of maintenance in the previous period.

BHP’s coal operations were broadly flat year on year, with guidance unchanged for both coking coal, used in steel, and thermal coal used in power generation.

It saw a large drop in production at its Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia due to adverse weather.

BHP was down 2.2 per cent to $38.51 by 11am in Sydney, on Wednesday.

Covering energy and policy at Fairfax Media.

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