SMM9: this week, BHP Billiton officially announced its results for fiscal year 2020. As the miner with the highest copper production under the operating caliber, its Escondida copper mine has an annual output of more than 1 million tons, making it the largest super copper mine in the world. Under the background of the outbreak of novel coronavirus epidemic in 2020, the impact on copper production in South America, and the suspension of construction of a number of new copper expansion projects, the production situation of BHP Billiton and the outlook for fiscal year 2021 have attracted much attention.
In fiscal year 2020, the company produced 1.724 million tons of copper, up 2 per cent from a year earlier, and the copper business contributed 19 per cent of the group's earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortisation. Of this total, copper production at the Escondida copper mine during the reporting period was 1.185 million tons, up 4 per cent from a year earlier.
However, for most of the second quarter of 2020, the company's mine operations in Chile lost about 35 per cent of its workforce to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition, the company said in the report that it will maintain a low operating workforce until there are signs that current controls can be relaxed. As COVID-19 reduces its operational workforce, it is necessary to continue to balance mine development and production needs, as well as the processing capacity of concentrators and leaching plants in fiscal year 2021. The copper level of the concentrator fell by about 4% in fiscal year 2021, and although the capacity of the concentrator has been increased to 371000 tons / day, the production of Escondida copper mine is expected to decline in fiscal year 2021, between 94 and 1.03 million tons, and production levels in fiscal year 2022 may continue to be affected.
Although mine production is expected to be affected in fiscal years 2021 and 2022, mine productivity and cost competitiveness will be improved through operating system upgrades and the application of automatic transport trucks, as well as the establishment of an integrated processing system. As a result, the copper production target of 1.2 million tons per year over the next five years will be maintained.
In addition, BHP Billiton said in its annual report that the construction of the new Spence concentrator has been completed by more than 93% and will be put into operation between December 2020 and March 2021, with an additional copper concentrate capacity of 90,000 metal tons per year.
Note: the fiscal year 2020 is from July 2019 to June 2020, and the fiscal year 2021 is from July 2020 to June 2021.
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