SYDNEY (AP) -- Global mining giant BHP Billiton on Wednesday reported a sharp drop in quarterly copper production, along with declines in iron ore and aluminum, as demand for minerals falls amid the global economic slump.
Copper production was down 14 percent in the three months ended March 31 compared to the same period last year, the Melbourne-based company said in a statement. Aluminum production was down 4 percent, petroleum production down 3 percent and iron ore down 1 percent.
The company said it expects total output from the world's largest copper mine, the Escondida mine in Chile, to drop 30 percent in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009.
"In the medium term, we expect that market conditions will remain uncertain," the company said. "All our operations will remain under review. We will continue to take appropriate actions in any business that is cash negative and set to remain so, or where there is lack of demand."