JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Having acknowledged challenges at its Australia operations, particularly at the Appin metallurgical coal mine in Illawarra, New South Wales, diversified miner South32’s focus remains on resolving operational challenges and improving operational efficiency.
“We had an unacceptable year as we experienced a series of outages, which affected our production,” South32 CEO Graham Kerr noted during the group’s annual general meeting in Perth, on Thursday.
In addition to two extended outages at the mine, challenging ground conditions also affected the company’s 2017 financial year performance.
However, the miner recently started a measured ramp-up of longwall mining activity at Appin, which will allow the group “to reset the operation’s culture, re-establish minimum performance criteria and increase productivity towards a more acceptable level”.
South32 is reviewing operating systems and practices, focusing on a safe restart of operations. The company will provide guidance following an assessment of the initial ramp-up performance.
Meanwhile, at Cannington mine in North West Queensland, lead, zinc and silver production were all down as ore grades declined, consistent with the mine plan, and run-of-mine stocks were depleted following an underground fire, said Kerr.
However, following the decommissioning of the original underground crusher in September, the miner successfully replaced shaft haulage with additional trucking capacity.
“We expect processing rates to increase once we commission the new underground crusher in the March 2018 quarter,” Kerr noted.