This excerpt taken from the BHP 6-K filed Jan 24, 2008.
Copper -Half year production increased significantly with production of copper concentrate achieving an all time record. The continued ramp up of Escondida Sulphide Leach and Spence (both Chile) and the recently commissioned Pinto Valley (USA) all contributed to the increased production. In aggregate, these projects contributed 96,100 tonnes during the half year ended December 2007. This increase was achieved despite two earthquakes in Chile that reduced output by approximately 9,100 tonnes, and lower production from Antamina (Peru) and Olympic Dam. Production at Antamina was impacted by unplanned interruptions at the SAG mill.
Olympic Dam achieved an all time high in total material mined and ore hoisted during the December 2007 half year. The build up of underground stock piles is progressing according to the development program in place to allow for increased ore hoisting. However, Olympic Dam's production was impacted by unplanned smelter interruptions and lower grades.
At 31 December 2007 the Group had 323,469 tonnes of outstanding copper sales that were revalued at a weighted average price of US$6,662 per tonne. The final price of these sales will be determined in 2008. In addition, 346,610 tonnes of copper sales were subject to a finalisation adjustment from the prior period. The finalisation adjustment and provisional pricing impact as at 31 December 2007 will decrease earnings(b) by US$240 million for the period.
Lead - Cannington's production in the December 2007 quarter was the highest since the record March 2005 quarter. Performance continues to improve following the completion of the Cannington (Australia) rehabilitation project.
Zinc - Production for the half year was significantly higher due to higher grade and an increased proportion of zinc containing ore being processed at Antamina. The completion of the Cannington rehabilitation project also had a positive impact.
Silver - Production was significantly higher than the December 2006 half year and quarter mainly due to the successful completion of the Cannington rehabilitation project. Half year production records were achieved at Escondida and Antamina.
Uranium - Production was the highest since the December 2004 quarter and half year due to ongoing progress at improving recovery and leach circuit performance at Olympic Dam.
Third party uranium was purchased from the spot market to meet contractual requirements. This will decrease earnings(b) by US$94 million for the half year ended December 2007.
Diamonds - As Ekati (Canada) transitions from open pit mining to underground mining the mix of ore processed will change from time to time. Production for the half year increased significantly compared to the December 2006 half year due to higher recoveries and grade. Although production increased it included a higher proportion of lower value carats.
Carat production decreased compared to the December 2006 and September 2007 quarters due to lower recoveries and grade.
This excerpt taken from the BHP 20-F filed Sep 26, 2007.
Our majority-owned Escondida copper mine in northern Chile has separate processing streams producing high-quality copper concentrate and pure copper cathode. Our other key copper assets are the Cerro Colorado and Spence copper mines in northern Chile, the Antamina copper and zinc operations in Peru, and the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in Australia.
In FY2007, our share of total production was 1.25 mtpa of payable copper in cathode and concentrate. We provide base metals concentrates to smelters and copper cathode to rod and brass mills and casting plants around the world. We sell the majority of our copper cathode production on annual contracts with a fixed premium and the majority of our copper concentrate production to smelters under long-term contracts, with treatment and refining charges negotiated mainly on an annual or bi-annual basis. The price of contained copper is determined by the prevailing LME market price generally for cathodes in the month after shipment and for concentrate three months after shipment. The remainder is sold on a spot basis.
In December 2006, the Spence open-cut copper mine, produced its first copper cathode. Production is currently in ramp up mode, with a nominal annual capacity of 200,000 tonnes of copper cathode. The project was completed within the budget of US$990 million, excluding foreign exchange impacts of the stronger Chilean peso. Including foreign exchange impacts, the project cost was US$1.1 billion.
This excerpt taken from the BHP 6-K filed Jan 25, 2007.
Copper -Production from continuing operations (excluding Tintaya (Peru)) was in line with the December 2005 half year and quarter. Record half year and quarterly copper cathode production from continuing operations (excluding Tintaya) reflecting the continued ramp up of the Sulphide Leach Project and the successful commissioning of Spence.
Escondida achieved a quarterly production record due to continued ramp up of the Sulphide Leach Project which produced 20,700 tonnes for the half year ended December 2006. Increased mill throughput and higher head grades contributed to near record half year and quarterly production at Antamina (Peru).
At the half year ended 31 December 2006 the Group had 205,129 tonnes of copper sales that were provisionally priced at a weighted average price of US$6,325 per tonne. The final price of these sales will be determined in 2007. In addition, 274,280 tonnes of copper sales were subject to a finalisation adjustment from the prior period. The finalisation adjustment and provisional pricing impact as at 31 December 2006 will decrease earnings by US$220 million for the period.
Silver / Lead - Production was lower as the rehabilitation of ground support at Cannington (Australia) progressed. The rehabilitation project is substantially complete.
Zinc - In addition to the temporary partial closure at Cannington, production for the quarter was impacted by lower head grades at Antamina.
Uranium - Production was lower than the half year and quarter ended December 2005 due to variability of ore sources, unscheduled maintenance and reduced ore hoisting at Olympic Dam (Australia).
(a) Excluding Goldsworthy operations which were suspended mid calendar year 2006.
This excerpt taken from the BHP 20-F filed Sep 25, 2006.
Our majority-owned Escondida copper mine in northern Chile has separate processing streams producing high-quality copper concentrate and pure copper cathode. Our other key copper assets are the Cerro Colorado copper mine in northern Chile, the Antamina copper and zinc operations in Peru and the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in Australia.
In 2005-06, our share of total production was in excess of 1.2 mtpa of copper in cathode and contained in concentrate. We provide base metals concentrates to smelters and copper cathode to rod and brass mills and casting plants around the world. We sell the majority of our copper cathode production on annual contracts with a fixed premium and the majority of our copper concentrate production to smelters under long-term contracts with treatment and refining charges negotiated mainly on an annual or bi-annual basis. The price of contained copper is determined by the prevailing LME market price generally for cathodes in the month after shipment and for concentrate three months after shipment. The remainder is sold on a spot basis.
During June 2006, we sold our interest in the Tintaya copper mine in Peru. The profit on disposal was US$296 million (net of a taxation charge of US$143 million).
In June 2005, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale affected the region in which the Cerro Colorado mine is located. Normal road accessibility for heavy trucks was suspended for two weeks and production was halted for two months, then gradually ramped up, returning to pre-earthquake levels in January 2006.
This excerpt taken from the BHP 6-K filed Jan 25, 2006.
This excerpt taken from the BHP 20-F filed Oct 3, 2005.
We are the worlds second largest producer of copper. The Escondida copper mine in northern Chile is the worlds largest source and a low cost producer of copper. During the year, as part of the acquisition of WMC, we acquired the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, which has a significant copper and uranium reserve. Our other key Base Metals assets include the Cannington silver, lead and zinc mine in Australia, the Cerro Colorado copper mine in northern Chile, and the Tintaya copper mine and Antamina copper and zinc operations in Peru. We also have a number of greenfield and brownfield expansion opportunities.
We hold a 57.5% interest in Escondida, a copper mine consisting of two open-pits accessible by road and located in northern Chiles Atacama Desert, at an altitude of approximately 3,100 metres, 160 kilometres south-east of the port city of Antofagasta. The other owners are affiliates of Rio Tinto plc, which hold a 30% interest, JECO, which holds a 10% interest, (Mitsubishi Corporation, 7%, Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, 1%, Nippon Mining and Metals Company Limited, 2%), and the International Finance Corporation, which holds a 2.5% interest.
Escondida is a large porphyry copper deposit with current mine dimensions of 2.4 kilometres in an east-west direction, 3.2 kilometres in a north-south direction and a depth of 464 metres. The ultimate pit limits are estimated to be 3.5 kilometres by 4.8 kilometres, with a depth of 750 metres.
Original construction of the operation was completed in 1990 at a cost of US$836 million (100% terms) and the project has since undergone four phases of expansions at an additional cost of US$2,125 million (100% terms) plus US$451 million (100% terms) for the construction of an oxide plant. The operation has two conventional processing streams, with high quality copper concentrate being extracted from sulphide ore through a flotation extraction process and pure copper cathode obtained in a plant applying leaching and subsequent solvent extraction and electro-winning to oxide ores. An open pit mine services both operations, with a current total movement of approximately 375 million tonnes of material each year, while dedicated pipeline and port facilities as well as a private railway are used to transport output.
The Escondida Norte expansion was approved in June 2003, with an investment of US$400 million (100% terms) required to bring Escondida Norte mine into production. In April 2004, the US$870 million (100% terms) Escondida Sulphide Leach copper project was approved. The project has the capacity to produce up to 180,000 tonnes of copper cathode per annum and is scheduled to begin production during the second half of 2006. The project will utilise a bacterially assisted leaching process on low-grade run-of-mine sulphide ore from the existing Escondida pit and the currently in-development Escondida Norte pit. The resulting solutions from the leaching will then be treated in solvent extraction and electro-winning plants to produce copper cathode.
The Escondida mine life is based on the production rate of feed to the combined flotation plants and is currently estimated at 27 years. Escondida Norte will provide a portion of the production to the flotation and sulphide leach plants for 19 years, concurrently with Escondida.
Escondida has the right of indefinite exploitation (mining) concessions for the mining of the Escondida ore body as well as exploitation and exploration rights for some territory surrounding the existing operation. Exploitation concessions allow the concession holder to mine the area indefinitely contingent upon the annual payment of corresponding licence fees.
Separate transmission circuits provide power for the Escondida mine complex. These transmission lines, which are connected to Chiles northern power grid, are company-owned and are sufficient to supply Escondida post Phase IV. Electricity is purchased under contracts with local generating companies, Norgener S.A. and GasAtacama Generación S.A.
Escondida has committed its forecast annual copper concentrate production under long-term sales contracts ranging in duration from 5 to 10 years. Expiration of these contracts varies, with the earliest being at the end of calendar year 2006 and the latest in 2012. Forecast production is fully committed (though not 100% priced) through to the end of calendar year 2006 under these long-term sales contracts. Approximately 85% of annual cathode production is sold under annual contracts to end-users and traders located primarily in Europe, Asia, the United States and Brazil and the remainder of production is sold on a spot basis.
The Tintaya deposit is owned by BHP Billiton Tintaya S.A., a Peruvian subsidiary of BHP Billiton Limited. Tintaya is an open-pit copper mine located in the Southern Andes in Peru at an altitude of approximately 4,000 metres. We hold a 99.95% interest in Tintaya with the remainder held by Peruvian shareholders. The deposit is a copper gold skarn system associated with a low-grade porphyry copper body and is approximately 3 kilometres long by 2.5 kilometres wide. We hold mining rights over 3,600 hectares and surface rights over 5,930 hectares on which the Tintaya mine and operations and provisions for future projects are located. These rights can be held indefinitely, contingent upon the annual payment of corresponding licence fees and the supply of information on investment and production to the authorities in due course. Mine operations consist of conventional truck and shovel operations from multiple pit locations. Electricity for the Tintaya operations is sourced from the Peruvian power grid and supplied under contract with three Peruvian power companies, San Gabán S.A., Enersur S.A. and Eléctrica MachuPicchu S.A.
Production commenced in 1984 and currently consists of a conventional flotation extraction process producing copper in concentrate from sulphide ore. Tintayas total annual production capacity is 90,000 tonnes of copper contained in concentrate along with gold and silver credits. An acid leach plant for oxide ore commenced commercial operation in June 2002 with a design capacity of 34,000 tonnes of copper cathode per year. With recent improvements to this plant, cathode production is now 38,000 tonnes annually. We expect annual production to remain stable until 2010 and then decrease as sulphide ore mining ceases and low grade stockpiles are processed to the end of the life of the mine, which we estimate will be between 2012-2014.
Approximately 65% of Tintayas cathode production is committed under annual contracts with rod mills in Peru and North America with the balance allocated to the spot market. For calendar year 2005, approximately 60% of Tintayas anticipated copper concentrate output is committed against long-term contracts with the balance allocated to a variety of spot sales. Operations were suspended from 25 May 2005 until 20 June 2005 after a period of local political unrest culminated in protesters briefly entering the facility. As a precautionary measure to guarantee the safety of employees and to defuse the situation, management suspended operations and evacuated personnel. Operations were resumed when the government re-established public order and management assessed that it was safe to return to work. Lost production during this period was 8,700 tonnes.
The Cerro Colorado mine is owned by Compañia Minera Cerro Colorado Limitada, a Chilean wholly owned subsidiary of BHP Billiton Plc. The open-pit copper mine is located in the Atacama Desert at an altitude of 2,600 metres, approximately 125 kilometres by road, east of Iquique, Chile. Cerro Colorado holds mineral rights over 16,582 hectares and surface rights over approximately 845.6 hectares on which the mine and plant are located. These rights can be held indefinitely contingent upon the annual payment of corresponding licence fees.
The Cerro Colorado deposit is approximately 2 kilometres long east-west and 1.5 kilometres wide north-south. Two main zones are present. Mineralisation is from 50 metres to 250 metres thick and is covered with 50 metres to 150 metres of leached cap and post-mineral rocks. The east deposit contains multiple layers of oxide and sulphide mineralisation with complex shapes. The west deposit generally consists of one oxide layer overlying one sulphide layer, but locally exhibits some of the complexities present in the east deposit.
At Cerro Colorado, we produce finished cathode copper by crushing, agglomeration and heap leaching followed by a solvent extraction-electrowinning process.
We source water requirements from an underground aquifer at Pampa Lagunillas, the rights to which we hold by grant from the state. Two suppliers, Edelnor S.A. and Compañía Electrica Tarapacá S.A, supply power under long-term contracts to the facilities through the northern Chile power grid.
Construction of the facilities was completed in 1994 at a total cost of US$287 million and commercial production at Cerro Colorado commenced in June 1994. An expansion of annual production capacity to 60,000 tonnes was completed in 1995 at a cost of US$49 million and in 1998, a second expansion of Cerro Colorado was completed, at a cost of US$214 million increasing the mines annual production to a nominal 100,000 tonnes of refined copper. Plant modifications were completed during calendar year 2004, at a cost of US$62 million, to increase the mines crushing capacity, leach pad area and mine fleet in order to maintain annual production capacity at a level of 120,000 tonnes per year for the next five years. With these modifications, we estimate that the remaining mine life will be 11 years.
The majority of Cerro Colorado production of cathode copper is committed for sale under annual contracts to customers in Europe and Asia.
On 13 June 2005, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale affected the region in which the Cerro Colorado mine is located. Normal road accessibility for heavy trucks was suspended for two weeks, but was re-established by the end of June. Production on one of the two plants suffered damage and its production was halted for two months until it was rebuilt. Production of cathode was approximately 50% of capacity during the month of August and will gradually ramp up to full capacity over the next few months. Some other minor damage affected the mine but with no serious consequences.
In October 2004, following the completion of an updated feasibility study, we approved the development of the US$990 million Spence copper project in Chile. This porphyry copper deposit lies within BHP Billitons (100%) land holding of 46,744 hectares of mineral rights with an associated 20,145 hectares of surface rights. The project is located 150 kilometres north-east of the port city of Antofagasta and 50 kilometres south-east of the mining city of Calama at an elevation of 1,700 metres above sea level in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.
The Spence orebody consists of in situ copper oxide mineralisation that overlies supergene sulphide, transitional sulphide, and lower-most primary (hypogene) sulphide mineralisation. The copper contained within both the oxide and supergene sulphide mineralisation is recoverable by heap leaching and solvent extraction/electorwinning processes (SXEW), whereas copper contained within the primary sulphide mineralisation (principally chalcopyrite) is not. The deposit will be developed by open-cut mining methods and heap leaching of crushed ore on dynamic (on-off) leach pads. Chemical (acid) leaching of oxide ores and bacterial leaching of supergene sulphide ores will be applied. Collected leach solutions will be sent to separate oxide and sulphide solvent extraction (SX) plants followed by a single electro-winning (EW) plant to produce copper cathode. The project will have a nominal capacity to produce 200,000 tonnes of copper cathode per annum when completed, and has an estimated mine life of approximately 19 years. First cathode production is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2006.
BHP Billiton has the right of indefinite exploitation (mining) concessions for the mining of the Spence ore body as well as exploitation and exploration rights for some territory surrounding the existing operation. Exploitation concessions allow the concession holder to mine the area indefinitely contingent upon the annual payment of corresponding licence fees.
Access and transportation of supplies to the project is via the primary highway connecting Antofagasta and Calama, which, prior to the project passed directly over the deposit. Electrical power will be supplied to the project via a 70 kilometre high-voltage transmission line connected to Chiles northern power grid. Spence will own this transmission line and purchase electricity under contracts from a local generating company.
As of 30 June 2005 the overall project was at 29% completion with 4.5 million hours worked. Project and operations staffing ramp-up has also been accomplished on plan. Pre-mine waste stripping operations commenced on schedule in May 2005.
This excerpt taken from the BHP 6-K filed Jul 28, 2005.
Copper - Production for the June 2005 financial year was 1.03 million tonnes, eight per cent higher than the June 2004 financial year. This mainly reflects record annual production at Escondida (Chile) following the restoration of full capacity and the August 2003 restart of sulphide operations at Tintaya (Peru). The increase also reflects record annual production at Antamina (Peru) following the return to their normal mine plan after the removal of lakebed sediments, and the inclusion of production for June 2005 from Olympic Dam. These increases were partly offset by the sale of the Group's interest in Highland Valley Copper (Canada) in January 2004.
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