BHP gives major update on mine automation rollout in CQ
A fleet of autonomous trucks have started operating at a second BHP mine site in Central Queensland, with the mining giant eyeing a completion of the rollout in the near future.
In its half year financial update for the period ending December 31 2020, BHP said its driverless truck rollout at both Goonyella Riverside mine and Daunia mine were on track.
"At the Goonyella Riverside mine in Queensland, the first coal site to implement autonomous haul trucks, the deployment of 86 autonomous trucks continues in line with the plan and is expected to be completed early in the 2022 calendar year, on schedule and budget," the company said.
"At the Daunia coal mine in Central Queensland, the second coal operation to implement autonomous haul trucks, the first trucks began operating in January 2021.
"The rollout is expected to be completed early in the 2022 calendar year, on schedule and budget."
BHP has not flagged an autonomous rollout at any of its other Queensland sites.
The mining giant's coal operations booked a $US1.1bn ($1.4bn) reversal in its half-year result as the pandemic and China's coal bans bit deep into the division's usually reliable profits.
BHP noted decreased volumes across its Queensland coal business because of wet weather from the La Nina event.
There was also planned wash plant maintenance and lower yields at South Walker Creek and Poitrel mines.
Despite hefty profits generated from BHP's Pilbara iron ore operations, the company's half-year results underscored the impact of the pandemic and China's coal bans on the company's coal division, dragging it down to a $US601m loss for the half-year, before interest and tax.
All of BHP's coal arms lost money in the six months to the end of December, with its Queensland metallurgical coal operations booking a $US270m loss before interest and tax, after revenue plunged almost $US1bn for the half to $US1.86bn.
BHP's Queensland coal operations booked a $US728m profit in the six months to the end of 2019.
Its Mount Arthur thermal coal mine in NSW, which BHP is preparing to sell, lost $US208m and its share of the Cerrejon thermal coal mine in Colombia lost $US52m.
BHP slashed $US1.2bn from the value of Mount Arthur, after tax, citing the poor outlook for Australian energy coal, the difficulty of recovering tax losses at the out-of-favour mine before it is sold, and "changes to the mine plan" - effectively its decision to high-grade the operation to maximise profits before it is offloaded.
BHP also cut the book value of Cerrejon by $US380m, citing the negative outlook for coal.
The bulk of the coal losses can be attributed to China's coal bans, however, and chief executive Mike Henry said on Tuesday he did not expect China's stance on Australian coal to change materially in the near future.
"The safe business planning assumption for BHP is that (the ban) is going to continue for some time," he said.
"We are certainly not banking on any near-term resetting of that policy; we are planning for it to be in (place) for a period of time."