SINGAPORE BHP Billiton Plcs copper output rose 8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with the previous quarter amid increased production and higher ore grades at its Escondida Mine in Chile and record output at Perus Antamina Mine.
The Olympic Dam smelter in Australia, which had a planned outage, is expected to return to full capacity this quarter, the company said.
Copper production stood at 295,200 tonnes for the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from 273,900 tonnes in the previous quarter and 5 percent higher year on year.
Copper in concentrate production at Escondida increased by 70 percent for the second half of 2012 vs. the first six months of the year.
"Total Escondida copper production is on track to increase by 20 percent in the 2013 financial year," BHP said.
Lower head grades at Cannington in Australia led to a reduction in lead and silver production in the quarter ended in December, the company said. Lead production for the period was 46,135 tonnes, down 12 percent quarter on quarter and down 31 percent year on year.
Silver production for the quarter was 8.56 million ounces, down 7 percent from the third quarter and down 22 percent year on year; gold production was 38,092 ounces, up 17 percent quarter on quarter but down 13 percent year on year; and zinc production was 26,209 tonnes, up 1 percent quarter on quarter but down 7 percent year on year.
A version of this story was first published in AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.