One of the leading global resources company,[DATA BIL:BHP Billiton Plc], also saw production guidance remaining unchanged.
(READ MORE: BHP Billiton maintains production guidance)
The company through a SENS announcement said it was on track to deliver group production growth of 16 per cent over the two years to the end of the 2015 financial year.
“Metallurgical coal production increased by 21 per cent to 26 Mt in the December 2014 half year as Queensland Coal and Illawarra Coal both achieved record half year volumes,” said the group.
“Western Australia Iron Ore production increased by 15 per cent to a record of 124 Mt (100% basis) in the December 2014 half year as the ramp-up of Jimblebar continued and we improved the availability,utilisation and rate of our integrated supply chain.”
According to BHP’s operational update, Petroleum production increased by nine per cent to a record 131 MMboe in the December 2014 half year supported by a 71 per cent increase in Onshore US liquids volumes to 24.4 MMboe.
However, the group also saw a decrease in copper production by two per cent to 813 kt as strong underlying operating performance across the business was offset by lower grades at Antamina.
“Record manganese ore and alumina production was underpinned by strong performances at both Hotazel and the Alumar refinery,” read the group statement.
BHP Billiton Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Mackenzie, said the company’s operational performance over the last six months has been strong.
“We are reducing costs and improving both operating and capital productivity across the Group faster than originally planned,” he said.
“These improvements will help mitigate some of the impact of lower commodity prices and we remain alert to opportunities to further increase free cash flow.”
Mackenzie said, in Petroleum, BHP has moved quickly in response to lower prices and will reduce the number of rigs we operate in our Onshore US business by approximately 40 per cent by the end of this financial year.
“The revised drilling program will benefit from significant improvements in drilling and completions efficiency,” he added.
(READ MORE: BHP Billiton delivers high production figures)
“Our ongoing shale investment program will remain focused on our liquids-rich Black Hawk acreage.”
The group says it will keep this activity under review and make further changes if it believes deferring development will create more value than near-term production.
“We continue to believe that our planned demerger will help support further improvements in operating performance in both the core BHP Billiton and South32 assets,” added Mackenzie.
“Within BHP Billiton, it would allow us to identify and deploy best practice across our assets more quickly and simplify our organisation to reduce overheads.”
BHP said it was making good progress towards securing the approvals it require to put the proposal to a shareholder vote in May and remain on track to complete the process before the end of the financial year.