The West

BHP beats production forecasts

Mining giant BHP Billiton lifted its iron ore production in the first half of the 2012/13 financial year, beating analyst expectations.

BHP produced 81.96 million tonnes of iron ore at its Pilbara operations in the six months to December 31, up 2 per cent on the same period in the previous year.

In the three months to December, iron ore production totalled 42.19 million tonnes, up 3 per cent on the previous corresponding period.

Analysts had forecast a flat result for iron ore in the three months to December.

BHP said the rise in production, plus record sales for iron ore, were a result of its spending on supply chain capacity.

The company has forecast long-term growth for its iron ore operations, and maintained its forecast of full-year production of 183 million tonnes.

BHP's production of oil and gas rose significantly in the six months to December, due to growth in its operations in the United States.

Total petroleum production was 121.15 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe), up 11 per cent from the previous corresponding period.

Natural gas production in the six months to December increased by 15 per cent from the same period in the previous year, while crude oil production rose by 4 per cent.

BHP's first-half production report also showed a 7 per cent rise in energy coal output, compared to the previous corresponding period, while metallurgical coal production was in line with the same period in the previous year.

The West Australian

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