BHP mine.
BHP mine.

BHP loses billions but still claim record coal production

BHP Billiton has recorded about a $5.1 billion profit loss in the space of a year, but there is still a record amount of coal coming out of the ground from Bowen Basin mines.

The company released its half-yearly financial statement yesterday, with results showing a 47% drop in attributable profit in the six months to December 2014 compared to the previous year.

Even though BHP maintains Queensland coal is being produced at record levels, especially at Daunia, Goonyella and Poitrel mines, the company could not say how the Bowen Basin was operating financially.

A spokeswoman said the company did not report financials for individual mines.

The financial report stated a drop in coal prices had significantly impacted the company's profitability.

BHP recorded about a $579 million drop in coal revenue between the first half of the 2013 and 2014 financial years.

But the report did draw upon reduced cash costs in the coal industry, citing "a continued focus on labour, contractor and maintenance costs" that influenced this reduction.

Late last year BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance announced its plan to cut 700 jobs from its Bowen Basin coal operations.

The company could not confirm whether there were more planned job cuts. A spokeswoman said they would not be ruled out.

A 15% reduction in Queensland coal unit cash costs brought the coal price to about $90 per tonne, the financial report said, with the company saying increased equipment and wash-plant utilisation rates and its focus on labour, contractor and maintenance costs helped achieve this.

In January the company announced record production from Bowen Basin mines.

In the December 2014 quarter, a record 2.4 mega tonnes was mined from Goonyella and 617 kilo tonnes from Daunia.

A total 17.2 mega tonnes of BMA coal had been mined in the first six months of this financial year in Queensland, compared to 14.2 mega tonnes in the same period in 2013.