BHP Escondida Output Rises, Headed for 20% Gain in Fiscal 2013

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), the world’s largest mining company, reported a 31 percent gain in copper production at its Escondida mine in Chile in the last quarter on higher grades and after completing a maintenance program.

BHP’s production from the mine, in which it owns a 57.5 percent stake, rose to 161,500 tons in the three months ended Dec. 31 from 123,400 tons in the same period a year earlier, the Melbourne-based company said today in a statement. Escondida, which is located in Chile’s Atacama Desert, accounted for more than half of BHP’s copper output in the quarter, according to the statement.

“Production benefited from the transition to higher grade ore feed and the successful completion of large-scale maintenance programs,” BHP said in the statement.

The increase will help BHP meet its target for a 20 percent gain in copper output from the mine in fiscal 2013, the company said. BHP’s total copper output rose 5 percent to 295,200 tons in the quarter, lower than the 303,000 ton median estimate from three analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

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