BHP Billiton said it expects to produce 212 million tonnes of iron ore from its Pilbarra operations in 2014 compared to its previous estimate of 207 million tonnes.
Iron-ore production for the first quarter to the end of September 2013 increased by 23% year-on-year and by 2% quarter-on-quarter to 49 million tonnes.
The company said its Western Australian iron ore operations achieved record production of 54 million tonnes for the quarter following the delivery of first production from the Jimblebar mine, ahead of schedule.
Phase one capacity ramp-up to 35 million tonnes per year at Jimblebar is expected to be completed by the end of the 2015.
Total iron ore production for 2014, which includes Samarco, is anticipated to increase to 192 million tonnes.
BHP Billiton chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie said the deployment of mobile crushing units and the continued debottlenecking of the supply chain are the factors for a five million tonne increase in Western Australia iron ore’s production guidance for the 2014 financial year.
"We continue to build on the substantial $2.7bn reduction in controllable cash costs delivered in the 2013 financial year with strong momentum maintained in the first quarter," Mackenzie said.
"In addition, a 25% reduction in capital and exploration expenditure to $16bn in the 2014 financial year has significantly increased internal competition for capital."
Metallurgical coal production increased by 14% in the quarter to 10 million tonnes and copper production grew by 6% to 403 thousand tonnes.
BHP Billiton said it will invest $2.6bn to complete the excavation and lining of the Jansen Potash project (Canada) production and service shafts, and to continue the installation of essential surface infrastructure as well as utilities.
Completion of both shafts is anticipated in 2016, while the associated works programme will extend into 2017.
Image: BHP Billiton’s Western Australian iron ore operations achieved record production of 54 million tonnes for the quarter. Photo: Courtesy of BHP Billiton.