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BHP Billiton record Australian iron ore production

Focus on productivity improved operating performance- CEO.

BHP Billiton posted record annual iron ore production in Western Australia for the fourteenth consecutive year Wednesday, while Queensland coal production also hit an all-time high.

The Anglo-Australian mining giant’s operational review for the year ended June 30 also showed copper production rose two percent year on year and petroleum up four percent.

“Our focus on productivity has resulted in a significant improvement in operating performance at each of our major businesses this year, with a nine percent increase in group production and record output at 12 operations,” chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said.

Rival mining giant Rio Tinto last week said its iron ore production and shipments surged to record highs in the first-half of the year as it boosted output despite a recent fall in commodity prices.

Iron ore prices have dropped almost 30% this year — falling below US$100 a tonne in May for the first time since 2012 — owing to a supply glut as miners lift output on expectations of continued Chinese demand for the steel-making material.

BHP said iron ore production in Western Australia significantly exceeded initial full-year production guidance with volumes increasing to 225 million metric tons (Mt).

“We now expect production of 245 Mt (100% basis) from the Pilbara (region) in the 2015 financial year,” the world’s biggest diversified miner said in a statement.

Metallurgical coal production was 45 Mt — beating full-year guidance as Queensland Coal achieved record production and sales volumes, it said.

Copper production rose to 1.7 Mt, while petroleum production was supported by significant growth at Onshore US and Atlantis.

“We expect to maintain strong momentum and remain on track to generate group production growth of 16% over the two years to the end of the 2015 financial year,” Mackenzie said.

“In petroleum, we are investing in our highest-return acreage while a broader improvement in productivity is expected to underpin stronger iron ore, copper and metallurgical coal volumes.

“We will remain focused on value over volume as we prioritise our brownfield development options and consider the next phase of portfolio simplification.”

BHP shares closed up 1.22% at Aus$38.98 in Sydney in an overall higher market that analysts said was boosted by miners.

“The report produced a scramble into mining stocks,” said CMC Markets strategist Michael McCarthy.

“Chinese accounts also showed the value of imports was up five percent, so I expect when we see BHP’s financial results it’s likely to surprise the market,” he added.

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