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18-07-2012 01:45:00

BHP Billiton Annual Iron Ore Output Hits Record

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MELBOURNE--BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) reported Wednesday a 12th consecutive annual production record from its iron ore mining operations in Western Australia and forecast a more modest increase in output for the next financial year.

BHP, the world's third-largest iron ore producer after Vale SA (VALE) and Rio Tinto PLC (RIO), said its output of the steelmaking commodity rose 19% for the year through June to almost 159.5 million metric tons. Production increased by 15% on-year in the fourth quarter and the mining company said production for the current financial year is expected to rise by about 5%.

The annual production figure was in line with the company's guidance given in January.

Production of metallurgical coal was 2% higher in the fourth quarter and up 2% for the year as a whole to 33.2 million tons.

BHP, the world's biggest exporter of steelmaking coal by sea, and joint venture partner Mitsubishi Corp. (8058.TO) in April declared force majeure on shipments as strikes continued to dent production at their jointly-owned mines in Queensland state. The force majeure was lifted this month and the venture earlier said it has edged closer to a settlement in the more than 18-month-long dispute with three labor unions after the two sides agreed to the framework for a new workplace agreement.

Among other commodities produced by BHP, output of copper rose 15% on the year in the final quarter but was down 4% for the financial year, fourth-quarter alumina output was up 1% on the year and aluminum production fell 21% on the year. Energy coal output rose just 1% on-year for the quarter and was up 2% for the year, the Melbourne-based company said.

Total petroleum production jumped 30% on the year in the fourth quarter and was up 40% for the year at 222.3 million barrels of oil equivalent, which BHP said reflected the integration and development of its onshore U.S. shale liquids and gas assets. The company in April had reaffirmed a forecast for petroleum output to reach 225 million barrels for the year.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 17, 2012 19:45 ET (23:45 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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