BHP says still on track for a strong year
Big miner BHP has reported a dip in first-quarter output across its Western Australia iron ore operations but says it's still on track for a strong year.
March quarter iron ore production totalled 59.9 million tonnes, down four per cent from the December quarter, due to bad weather and planned maintenance impacts.
But on a year-to-date basis BHP - which ends its fiscal 2021 year on June 30 - lifted output by four per cent to a 188.3Mt.
"BHP's strong safety and operational performance continued during the quarter with record year-to-date production as Western Australia Iron Ore," CEO Mike Henry said.
"We are well-positioned to finish the year strongly."
BHP is already well past the halfway point for its 2020/21 iron ore output target of up to 255Mt.
During the March quarter, BHP shipped 66Mt on a wet tonne basis.
The price of iron ore currently trades around $US190 ($A246) per tonne.
The price has climbed from a little more than $US80 ($A104) per tonne last year.
Chinese steel-makers' demand for the commodity has been key to miners' profits.
Iron ore accounts for about 64 per cent of BHP's earnings.
RBA Capital Markets analyst Tyler Broda said the iron ore and copper production for the quarter was in line with expectations.
Petroleum production was a little better than analysts expected, while coal was lower.
Shares were lower by 2.4 per cent to $46.31 at 1127 AEST amid a wider market downturn.
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