BHP and Rio rise above China-Australia tensions

BHP and Rio rise above China-Australia tensions

Iron ore and copper prices hit 8-year highs amid Beijing’s infrastructure spree

TOKYO — Australian resource giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have increased iron ore production thanks to an infrastructure binge in China, a country that has otherwise been intent on slapping Australia with economic penalties.

“BHP delivered strong safety and operational performance in the first half of the 2021 financial year, including record production at Western Australia Iron Ore,” BHP Billiton CEO Mike Henry said.

The miner on Wednesday announced its iron ore production for the July-December half increased 6% to 128 million tons from the same period a year earlier. Rio Tinto on Tuesday reported that its iron ore production for 2020 rose 2% to 333.4 million tons.

China’s buoyant steel demand can take much of the credit. According to customs data, China’s iron ore imports jumped 9.5% in 2020 to an all-time high of 1.17 billion tons.