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Inputs and inflation

Dr Huw McKay, BHP's Vice President of Market Analysis and Economics talks about the external trends that affect our business, such as inflation, uncontrollable unit costs, and utilisation rates.

Key points

  • The maritime industry is refocusing its efforts on sustainability in line with the IMO’s 2020 fuel regulations.
  • The Chilean peso and the Australian dollar depreciated in the first half of 2019.
  • The Australian mining sector employed around 240 thousand people in the 2019 June quarter, well below peak levels.

  • Cost inflation has been modest in Chile and in our conventional petroleum business.
  • Australian mining wages are growing at the same rate as the national average, but we're seeing higher turnover rates in some areas of the business. 
  • General inflationary trends in both capital and operating expenditure are benign.
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Maritime freight

The maritime freight industry is now refocusing its efforts on sustainability, highlighted by the onset of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) 2020 low sulphur fuel regulations.

BHP chartered vessels will be fully compliant with all implemented environmental regulations and we will support regulatory authorities in their efforts to bring about a greener future for the industry.

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The Australian power market

As a wave of new renewable capacity has entered the Australian electricity market, the Australian Government’s focus is on improving the affordability and reliability of supply rather than decarbonising the power grid.

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Inputs and inflationary trends

Over the past six months, the uncontrollable element of industry wide operating cost inflation has been broadly steady, reflecting mixed trends across the procurement landscape.

Uncontrollable costs

A number of uncontrollable cost drivers across our minerals business, such as diesel, explosives and steel products, have levelled off in price over the most recent half.

General consumer price inflation has been lower than expected by policy makers across Australia, Chile and the United States.

Labour market

In Australia, total mining sector employment reached 240,000 in the June quarter of 2019. That is about 13 per cent below the cycle peak.

Mining wage growth in Australia has increased from below 2 per cent to 2.3 per cent year-on-year. Within Minerals Australia, pockets of inflation have emerged due to a need for niche skills and higher turnover rates in some segments of the workforce.

In Chile, general inflation has been modest. In the economy more broadly, there is confidence that the capital project pipeline is robust, construction industry confidence is on the rise and recent large scale immigration will have a positive impact on the nation’s trend growth trajectory.

Utilisation rates

Globally, earth moving equipment deliveries have increased strongly in consecutive years, but deliveries are still only half of the cycle peak achieved early this decade.

In the petroleum business, deepwater costs have recovered a little but they remain close to cycle lows. Onshore costs have returned to 85 per cent of peak levels, while offshore cost are just 70 per cent of the way there.

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Economic and Commodity Outlook

Read BHP's economic and commodity outlook in full

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Data and events referenced on this page are current as of August 13, 2019. The data is compiled from a wide range of publically available and subscription sources, including Bloomberg, Platts, Wood Mackenzie, CRU, Thomson Reuters, Argus, Fertecon, FastMarkets, SMM, AME, Parker Bay, MySteel, LME, COMEX, SHFE, ICE, DCE, SGX and I.H.S Markit, among others. All monetary values are in US dollars unless otherwise specified.

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