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BHP highlights Chinese coal restrictions, Colombian production issues in quarterly review

Highlights

BHP to monitor impact of Chinese restrictions

Production guidance for Cerrjeon under review

London — Diversified miner BHP said it would be reviewing its thermal coal production guidance due to ongoing strike issues at the Colombian Cerrejon operation, as well as a recent development of China to ban imports of Australian coal.

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In its quarterly operational review Oct. 20, the world's largest mining group said it produced 4.66 million mt of thermal coal in the July-September quarter, down 18% on the quarter and down 17% on the year.

Of this production, 3.62 million mt came from the Australian New South Wales Energy Coal operation, down 26% on the quarter and up 1% on the year, while production guidance or the 2020-21 financial year (Jul-Jun) was unchanged at 15-17 million mt.

Despite the unchanged production guidance, BHP said it would monitor the developing situation where China had recently banned any further Australian coal imports. BHP also added adverse weather in Southeast Asia had delayed some thermal coal shipments sue for the quarter through to October.

Attributable production from the Cerrjeon operation in Colombia -- where BHP owns a one-third share -- was 1.04 million mt, up 35% on the quarter but down 49% on the year.

The sharp changes on a quarter-ago basis were due to a production shutdown in the previous quarter as a response to COVID-19, while the sharp increase on a year-ago basis was due to a strike which began on Aug. 31, BHP said.

Production guidance for Cerrjeon, which was around 7 million mt previously, was currently under review due to the strike, BHP said, with no other indication provided.