Wednesday, April 20, 2011

28% Drop in BHP Billiton's Diamond Production

Diamond production by BHP Billiton was hurt by lower average ore grade, an issue that will continue to impact the company's production in the 2012 financial year as well. In the last quarter, BHP Billiton produced 551,000 carats, a 28% year-over-year decline.

In a production report for the nine months ended March 31 published today (Wednesday), BHP Billiton reported production of 1,930,000 carats of diamonds in the last three quarters, a 16% decline compared to last year.

"Production continues to be influenced by the variability of ore sources due to the mix of open pit and underground mining," the company said. "Consistent with the mine plan, BHP Billiton expects lower average ore grades to impact Ekati (Canada) production in the 2012 financial year."

The company, however not only suffered from lower grade, it also processed less ore. In the last quarter it processed 1,122,000 tonnes compared with 1,256,000 tonnes in the March 2010 quarter, a 10.7% decline. In the year to date period, ore processing declined by 5.8%.

In terms of carats per ton (CPT), Ekati produced 0.49 cpt in the last quarter compared with 0.61 cpt the year before, underscoring the lower ore grade.

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