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On Apr 17, BHP Billiton Plc. (BHP - Analyst Report), a natural resources company, reported improved quarterly year-over-year production data, ended March 2013, for most of its business segments.

BHP saw a year-over-year increase in production across most of its products including aluminium, nickel, copper, zinc, iron, manganese alloy and metallurgical coal in the quarter ended March 2013. However, yield of some products like petroleum, lead, gold, silver, diamonds and energy coal declined year over year during the period.

As announced in the last quarter, BHP Billiton completed the sale of its stake in the EKATI mine on Apr 10, for a consideration of $533.0 million, thereby closing its diamonds business.

BHP Billiton expects total crude oil production to increase further in the June quarter. The company hopes to augment its output by digging new wells and through development of infrastructure. Alumina production increased 15.0% year over year, led by a significant contribution from the Efficiency and Growth project at Worsley (Australia).

Although no major development and exploration projects received approval in the reported quarter, BHP Billiton expects that the 19 major projects currently in development stages will start production by the end of financial year 2015.

A day earlier, another mining giant, Rio Tinto Plc. (RIO - Analyst Report), revealed its production data for first quarter 2013, ended March 31, 2013. The company posted an increase in most of its products for the quarter.

BHP Billiton is scheduled to release its preliminary results for fiscal 2013 on Aug 21, 2013. Being a company which reports its results half yearly, BHP Billiton’s earnings for the fiscal depends to a large extent on the production status of quarter ending June 2013.

BHP Billiton currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other stocks worth a look in the mining industry are Cameco Corporation (CCJ - Snapshot Report); carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and Alumina Ltd. , carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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