Copper production shines at Olympic Dam

BHP says its Olympic Dam mine in South Australia’s Far North has recorded its best quarter in over a decade, with overall copper production up 10 per cent on last year.

Apr 18, 2024, updated Apr 18, 2024
Olympic Dam. Photo: BHP.

Olympic Dam. Photo: BHP.

The mining giant today released its third quarter operational review, which highlighted strong returns from its copper mining operations including at Olympic Dam.

The company said production at its South Australian copper sites was up 49 per cent, thanks to the acquisition of local mining operation OZ Minerals which was completed last year.

That brought the Prominent Hill and Carrapateena mines into the BHP portfolio as part of a $6.4 billion buyout.

BHP said Olympic Dam experienced “the highest quarter of mineral mined in over 10 years in Q3 FY24”.

“Strong smelter performance at Olympic Dam was supported by ongoing transfers of concentrate from Prominent Hill and initial transfers from Carrapateena in Q3 FY24, for processing to higher margin cathode,” BHP said, highlighting the synergies created via the OZ Minerals acquisition.

“We are continuing exploration drilling across the Copper South Australia province to enhance our resource knowledge in support of our growth studies.”

This includes at Oak Dam, where BHP is progressing an external approval process for an underground access project to speed up mineral deposit drilling.

Overall, copper production was up by 10 per cent for BHP in a strong pricing environment, buoyed by the South Australian and overseas copper assets including at its Escondida mine in Chile which also experienced a record nine months of production.

“We remain on track to meet copper, iron ore and energy coal production for the year. Copper volumes have increased by 10 per cent reflecting strong performance and additional tonnes from Copper South Australia, record year-to-date performance from Spence, and improved grades and production at Escondida,” BHP CEO Mike Henry said.

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“Western Australia Iron Ore, the lowest cost iron ore producer globally, delivered another consistent period of production despite heavy rainfall. We continue to invest in improvements to our rail and port operations, which are essential for growth in the medium term to 305 million tonnes per annum and beyond.

“At our BMA metallurgical coal operations in Queensland, significant wet weather including the impact of two tropical cyclones and operational challenges impacted production and unit costs, and we have revised guidance for the year. We successfully completed the sale of the Blackwater and Daunia mines on 2 April for a total of up to US$4.1 bn (100 per cent).”

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