BHP Billiton came out with its production report for the nine months ended 31 March 2018. The company stated, total Copper production guidance narrowed to between 1,700 and 1,785 kt, however guidance for. Olympic Dam reduced to approximately 135 kt following a slower than planned ramp-up after the major smelter maintenance campaign. Total copper production for the nine months ended March 2018 increased by 37 per cent to 1,290 kt.
Guidance for the 2018 financial year narrowed to between 1,700 and 1,785 kt from between 1,655 and 1,790 kt. Escondida copper production for the nine months ended March 2018 increased by 64 per cent to 897 kt, supported by the start-up of the Los Colorados Extension project on 10 September 2017. Production guidance for the 2018 financial year has been narrowed to between 1,180 and 1,230 kt from between 1,130 and 1,230 kt.
The Escondida Water Supply Extension (EWSE) was sanctioned by all joint venture partners in March 2018 and it comprises the expansion of the Escondida Water Supply conveyance system and desalination plant. EWSE is in execution phase and will deliver first water production in the 2020 financial year. EWSE will continue Escondidas sustainable reduction of groundwater usage and maximise concentrator throughput beyond the 2020 financial year. The existing agreement with Union N°1 will expire on 1 August 2018 and early negotiations started in April 2018.
Pampa Norte copper production increased by six per cent to 193 kt due to record production at Spence mainly driven by higher utilisation of the solvent extraction and electrowinning plants. Pampa Norte production guidance for the 2018 financial year remains unchanged and is expected to be higher than the prior year. During the period, we successfully completed the accelerated negotiation with Spence Union N°2 (supervisors and staff) with the new agreement effective from 1 April 2018 for 36 months.
Olympic Dam copper production decreased by 18 per cent to 95 kt as a result of the planned major smelter maintenance campaign in the first half of the financial year. Production guidance for the 2018 financial year has been reduced from 150 kt to approximately 135 kt due to a slower than planned ramp-up during the March 2018 quarter.
A return to full capacity is now expected over the course of the June 2018 quarter. Development into the highergrade Southern Mine Area continues with record underground development metres achieved in March 2018. Antamina copper production increased by 10 per cent to 105 kt and zinc production increased 43 per cent to 84 kt due to higher head grades as mining continued through a zinc-rich ore zone consistent with the mine plan. Copper production guidance for the 2018 financial year has increased to approximately 135 kt from approximately 125 kt and zinc production guidance to approximately 110 kt from approximately 100 kt.