(Reuters) -BHP Group on Thursday reported a lower-than-expected iron ore production for the third quarter, as pandemic-related labour crunch and planned track renewal works hurt the miner’s efforts to boost production in Pilbara in Western Australia.
The world’s largest listed miner said iron ore production in the June quarter is also expected to be impacted by lingering COVID-related worker absenteeism, but did not change its forecast for fiscal 2022.
Not until early March did the mineral-rich state of Western Australia lift hard-line border restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the pandemic.
The measures have left BHP, rival Rio Tinto and other miners struggling to hire mine workers and train drivers even as pent-up demand fuelled a rally in commodity prices.
Iron ore production from Western Australia came in at 66.7 million tonnes (Mt) in the three months to March 31, BHP said, lower than a consensus estimate of 70 mt compiled by Visible Alpha.
Copper production at its Escondida copper mine in Chile fell to 226.4 thousand tonnes (kt) from 249.3 kt a year earlier, the company said.
(Reporting by Harish Sridharan and Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)