Mixed results in BMA production report

COAL from BHP Billiton's Central Queensland mines jumped by a third for the final three months of 2012, able to finally ramp up after an accord was signed with warring unions.

But the good news for coal seemed to be short-lived with BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance's long-standing plans to temporarily shutting down parts of South Walker Creek and Goonyella mines.

In its latest production report, released on Wednesday, those losses almost completely cancelled out BMA's extra production.

The shut down of BMA's Gregory open-cut mine in early October also ate into its results.

Although not included in these results, earlier in 2012, BMA mothballed its Norwich Park mine at the peak of industrial action brought by three mine-worker unions.

But BHP believes its hard-fought savings won through closures and staff changes may yield results by the end of the financial year.

It report suggests through improved coal production, better economies of scale and by closing its most costly operations, BHP should face lower costs.

Beyond its coal business, BHP reported its best December half-year sales records in its Western Australian iron ore business for the twelfth year in a row.