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South32 expects prolonged suspension of Groote Eylandt manganese exports

22nd April 2024

By: Mariaan Webb

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

     

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Commodities giant South32 said on Monday that manganese ore exports from Groote Eylandt mine, in the Northern Territory, were likely to remain suspended until 2025 owing to extensive damage caused by a tropical cyclone last month.

The cyclone, which ravaged the region on March 16 and 17, unleashed unprecedented rainfall of 681 mm coupled with powerful wind gusts, making it the second strongest cyclone to hit the area in the past two decades. The extreme weather wreaked havoc on critical infrastructure, notably the wharf responsible for shipping manganese ore and a haulage bridge connecting mining areas to processing facilities.

The aftermath of cyclone Megan prompted South32 to temporarily halt operations, resulting in a 13% decrease in Australia Manganese saleable production to 2.3-million tonnes for the nine months ended March 24. Third-quarter production fell by 22% year-on-year to 645-million tonnes.

South32 reported that engineering studies were under way to assess the extent of the damage to the wharf and haulage road bridge, with the aim of informing the final schedule and capital costs for restoration. Preliminary estimates suggested that wharf operations and export sales were anticipated to resume in the third quarter of the 2025 financial year.

In the interim, South32 is exploring alternative shipping options to establish partial ore export capabilities before the wharf restoration is completed.

Given the ongoing recovery efforts and uncertainty surrounding the timeline for resuming operations, South32 has retracted its guidance for Australia Manganese.

“We remain focused on the safety and wellbeing of our workforce and the Groote Eylandt community,” said CEO Graham Kerr.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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