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BHP cuts FY iron ore production guidance as cyclone hits output

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(Reuters) – BHP Group, the world’s biggest miner, on Wednesday cut its annual iron ore production forecast on disruptions caused by a tropical cyclone that pushed its quarterly output of the steel-making material 5 percent lower.

The Anglo-Australian miner lowered projections for its fiscal 2019 iron ore production to 265 million-270 million tonnes, from 273 million-283 million tonnes.

Iron ore output came in at 64 million tonnes for the three months ended on March 31, compared with 67 million tonnes a year ago. That was below an average of estimates by Goldman Sachs and UBS of 65.8 million tonnes.

At the beginning of this month, BHP put its annual iron ore production under review following a cyclone that swept Western Australia in late March, adding that it expects production to fall by 6 million to 8 million tonnes.

Iron ore prices have surged this year on supply concerns in the wake of cyclone Veronica and a fatal dam collapse in Brazil in January that curtailed operations at the world’s No. 1 iron ore miner Vale SA.

Since selling its onshore U.S. oil business last year, BHP now focuses on just four commodities – iron ore, copper, coal and offshore oil and gas.

The miner posted an 8 percent drop in quarterly copper production mainly due to lower output at the world’s biggest copper mine, Escondida in Chile.

However, the miner maintained annual production guidance for copper at 1.65 million tonnes to 1.74 million tonnes.

(Reporting by Aditya Soni and Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler and Sandra Maler)

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