BHP sees full-year iron ore output near upper end of forecast

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A BHP Billiton sign is visible behind a pile of iron ore at the company’s loading facility in Port Hedland

(Reuters) – BHP Group Ltd said on Wednesday it expects annual iron ore production at the upper end of its forecast, although bad weather and planned maintenance at its South Flank project sent third-quarter output nearly 2% lower.

The world’s largest listed miner expects overall production of the steelmaking ingredient at the top end of its 245 million tonnes (Mt) to 255 Mt forecast range.

Demand from China, the world’s top steel producer, remains robust as commodity-intensive stimulus measures targeted by Beijing to boost the pandemic recovery have been powering prices to multi-year highs.

Supply constraints from Brazil have also supported prices, benefiting major iron ore miners such as BHP, Rio Tinto (LON:) and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.

On Tuesday, Rio Tinto said quarterly shipments rose 7%, although wet weather and labour shortages led its iron ore output lower.

Commissioning activities at BHP’s $3.4 billion South Flank replacement project in the state’s Pilbara region are set to start in the June quarter, the company said.

BHP said in January that third-quarter production would be impacted by planned ore handling maintenance and tie-in activity between Mining Area C and the South Flank project.

Output from Western Australia on a 100% basis in the three months ended March came in at 66.7 Mt, down from 68 Mt a year earlier.

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