SINGAPORE BHP Billiton
Plcs aluminum output rose in the fourth quarter of 2012
as production at its Hillside plant in South Africa returned to
full technical capacity ahead of schedule.
Aluminum production totaled
297,000 tonnes in the three months ended Dec. 31, up 10 percent
from the previous quarter but down 5 percent from a year
earlier, according to the diversified miner.
"Strong performance at Worsley
in Australia contributed to record alumina production in the
December quarter and half year," the company said. "Worsley
operated at 95 percent of design capacity during the quarter
following the successful ramp-up of the efficiency and growth
Alumina production totaled 1.23
million tonnes in the fourth quarter, up 5 percent from the
previous three months and 23 percent higher than a year
earlier, BHP said. However, a strong Australian dollar and weak
pricing environment continued to place pressure on its
Australian alumina and nickel operations.
Nickel output declined as a
strong operating performance at Cerro Matoso in Colombia was
more than offset by planned maintenance at the Nickel West
Kalgoorlie smelter and Kwinana refinery in Australia.
Nickel production totaled 34,700
tonnes in the quarter ended Dec. 31, down 6 percent from the
previous quarter and 10 percent lower year-on-year.
BHP did not disclose any
impairment charges related to its aluminum assets, but
according to media reports the company is expected to write
down the book value of its aluminum assets by $2 billion to $3
Earlier this month, Tom Albanese
stepped down as Rio Tinto Plc chief executive officer after the
miner announced it faced a $14-billion write-down, including up
to $11 billion against its troubled aluminum business (
amm.com, Jan. 17).
This article was first published in AMM sister publication