Coronavirus Update

BHP Group Plc - Operational Review March 2020

This content has been sourced from:


Note: All guidance is subject to potential impacts from COVID-19 during the June 2020 quarter.

  • Our highest priority is the safety, health and wellbeing of our workforce and communities. We have taken action to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Our financial position is strong. Underpinned by our low-cost operations, our business is resilient and expected to continue to generate solid cash flow.
  • Strong underlying operational performance across the portfolio offset the impacts of planned maintenance, natural field decline and wet weather in Australia. Group copper equivalent production was broadly unchanged over the nine months ended March 2020, with volumes for the full year now expected to be in line with last year.
  • Record production was achieved at Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) and Caval Ridge, while record average concentrator throughput was delivered at Escondida and record ore was stacked at Spence.
  • Production guidance for the 2020 financial year remains unchanged for petroleum, iron ore and metallurgical coal. Copper guidance for our operated assets is broadly unchanged and Antamina guidance is under review following temporary suspension of operations due to COVID-19. Energy coal production guidance is under review with Cerrejón placed on temporary care and maintenance due to COVID-19.
  • Full year unit cost guidance(1) remains unchanged for the 2020 financial year.
  • Our major projects under development in petroleum and iron ore are tracking to plan. As a result of measures put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Spence Growth Option schedule and timing for completion of the shafts at Jansen are under review.
  • We have flexibility in our capital and exploration expenditure. We are reviewing our guidance for the 2021 financial year and it will be lower than the current guidance of around US$8 billion. We will provide updated guidance with our full year results.
  • An update on COVID-19 measures and our short-term economic and commodities outlook is included on pages 3 to 5.  


Mar YTD20

(vs Mar YTD19)

Mar Q20

(vs Dec Q19)

Mar Q20 vs Dec Q19 commentary

Petroleum (MMboe)





Lower production due to increased downtime at Bass Strait caused by adverse weather conditions, planned maintenance at Atlantis and lower seasonal gas sales.

Copper (kt)





Lower production at Escondida due to the impact of expected lower copper grades, partially offset by continued strong concentrator throughput. Lower volumes at Olympic Dam due to unplanned downtime at the smelter.

Iron ore (Mt)





Production was broadly flat at WAIO despite weather impacts from Tropical Cyclone Blake and Tropical Cyclone Damien, reflecting increased car dumper availability and reliability.

Metallurgical coal (Mt)





Lower volumes at Queensland Coal due to substantially higher rainfall in January and February 2020, by a factor of almost two at Peak Downs and almost three at Blackwater compared with historical averages.

Energy coal (Mt)





Volumes broadly flat at New South Wales Energy Coal (NSWEC), while lower volumes at Cerrejón as a result of a focus on higher quality products.

Nickel (kt)





Higher volumes following completion of major maintenance activities at the Kwinana refinery and Kalgoorlie smelter in the prior quarter.


BHP Chief Executive Officer, Mike Henry:

"We have operated safely for the quarter and have achieved another strong operational performance.

We have implemented extensive measures across our operations to keep our people and communities safe from COVID-19. Working closely with relevant authorities and medical experts, strict travel and working practice arrangements have been established, including deferral of non-critical activity on our operating sites to support social distancing, revised rosters to reduce people travelling to site, more intensive site cleaning and health checks. I am encouraged to know that the small number of colleagues from our 72,000 strong global workforce who have tested positive for the virus have recovered or are recovering well.

The coupling of our disciplined controls, the commitment of people across BHP, and our financial strength has enabled us to continue to safely operate and supply our customers with the critical resources they require, and to continue to provide jobs and an underpinning of economic activity both locally and around the world. We have accelerated payments to many of our suppliers and have established COVID-19 relief funds to help our communities and local health and social services. BHP is committed to playing its part in the collective, global response to this pandemic. Our business continuity plans have been effective and our operations have continued to perform well, thanks to the effort of our employees, contractors and suppliers. We have delivered strong performance across the portfolio despite the impacts of planned maintenance, natural field decline and wet weather in Australia. Western Australia Iron Ore achieved record year-to-date production, while Escondida production also increased supported by record concentrator throughput.

While demand in China has strengthened in recent weeks, we expect other major economies, including the US, Europe and India, to contract sharply in the June 2020 quarter. The situation remains fluid, however, with our strong financial position and low-cost operations, our business is resilient, with capacity to generate solid cash flow through this period and emerge well placed as the global economy recovers.

Our priorities are the continued safety of our people, continuing reliable operations and supporting our customers, suppliers and communities in these challenging times."