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BHP iron ore output drops

One of BHP Billiton’s
West Australian iron
ore mines
Melbourne, Australia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 07 May 2009 – BHP Billiton Limited – the world’s largest mining company – says its iron ore production this fiscal year will miss the previous guidance it gave by what it described as “a few million tonnes” because of accidents at its Western Australian mines.

“That’s a direct consequence of the safety events,” BHP iron ore unit president Ian Ashby said in a copy of a speech obtained by Bloomberg News. “The company had to contend with five fatal accidents since July last year,” he added.

Bloomberg News reports that the world’s third-biggest producer of the steelmaking ingredient has received 70 safety-related notices in the past two years, Western Australia’s state government revealed last month. BHP had expected to produce 130 million metric tons of iron ore for the year to June 30, beating the record 111 million tons of the previous year.

“Disruptions may continue into the first quarter of the next financial year,” Ashby said, but he gave no details.

The company closed its Ore Body 18 mine for four days in March because of heavy rains, and was also forced to shut part of its operations in February after a worker had been killed.

BHP – which controls seven iron ore mines in the Pilbara region – was given 12 notices to stop operations in two weeks, according to a statement by the state government in April.