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Mining giant, BHP Billiton Limited (BHP - Analyst Report), announced improved year-over-year production results for the first quarter of fiscal 2014. Production for copper, iron ore, alumina, aluminium, energy coal, nickel and metallurgical coal increased in the quarter, while that of lead, silver, uranium, natural gas and manganese ore decreased.

Total petroleum production in the quarter reached a record level of 62.7 million barrels of oil equivalent. The record production was on the back of the start of BHP Billiton’s Macedon project in Australia, which achieved its first gas sales in August. The company has various other ongoing projects in Australia including Bass Strait Turrum, North West Shelf North Rankin B Gas Compression, North West Shelf Greater Western Flank-A and Bass Strait Longford Gas Conditioning Plant. The expected petroleum production in fiscal 2014 is maintained at 250 million barrels of oil equivalent.

On a sequential basis, lower average ore grades affected performance at Cannington, Australia, which impacted the production of lead, silver and zinc. However, zinc production increased 10% year over year to 28,555 tonnes in the quarter.

BHP Billiton’s Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) operations attained a record production of 54 million tonnes iron ore in the quarter. Production start-up at Jimblebar mine was a major contributor to the enhanced production. WAIO operations are expected to produce 212 million tonnes in fiscal 2014; however, BHP Billiton’s share of iron ore production is expected to be 192 million tonnes.

Such production hike gives the company a good start to the fiscal 2014. BHP Billiton has various ongoing projects, some of which are expected to start production in fiscal 2014. We, thus, expect to see improved year-over-year results for the company in the coming quarters.

BHP Billiton currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Other stocks worth a watch in the industry include Denison Mines Corp. (DNN - Snapshot Report), Hi-Crush Partners LP (HCLP - Snapshot Report) and Silvercorp Metals Inc. (SVM - Snapshot Report). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). 

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