South32 reports improved operating results for March quarter

South32 CEO Graham Kerr

South32 CEO Graham Kerr

22nd April 2024

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online


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Diversified miner South32 has reported an overall improvement in its operating results for the March quarter and record year-to-date production at Hillside Aluminium, in KwaZulu-Natal, and South Africa Manganese, in the Northern Cape, along with a 60% increase in quarterly volumes at Illawarra Metallurgical Coal, in Australia.

The group confirmed that its operating unit cost guidance for the 2024 financial year would remain unchanged, with the exception of the group’s Australia Manganese operations, which were affected by the impacts of tropical cyclone Megan.

Recovery plans are currently under way to enable Australia Manganese’s safe return to operations and ore exports.

Further, South32 said the final investment approval for the development of the Taylor zinc/lead/silver deposit at Hermosa, in the US, and the sale of Illawarra for up to $1.65-billion, both announced in February, were significant steps forward in transforming its portfolio.

“During the quarter, we achieved significant milestones aligned with our strategy to transform our portfolio toward commodities critical in the transition to a low-carbon future. The Taylor zinc/lead/silver deposit . . . is expected to deliver attractive returns over multiple decades and unlock further value as the first phase of our regional scale opportunity.

“[The sale of Illawarra] will realise significant value, further streamline our portfolio and unlock capital to invest in our high-quality base metals projects,” South32 CEO Graham Kerr said on April 22, adding that the group’s unchanged cost guidance placed it in a strong position to capitalise on strengthening market conditions for many of its key commodities.

Aluminium production increased by 1% over the nine months to March 31 on the back of Hillside Aluminium’s record production and Brazil Aluminium’s continued ramp-up toward nameplate capacity.

Hillside Aluminium’s sales increased by 33% in the March quarter, while saleable production for the nine months to March 31 have increased by 1 000 t to 540 000 t.

South32’s 63.7%-owned Mozal Aluminium operation, in Mozambique, recorded a 10% decrease in saleable production to 237 000 t for the year-to-date period, as the smelter continued to implement its recovery plan, while managing the impact of loadshedding.

However, South32 reported that alumina production had decreased by 1% in the year-to-date, owing to the completion of the planned calciner maintenance at Worsley Alumina, in Australia.

However, Brazil Alumina remains on track to achieve production guidance.

Payable zinc-equivalent production at Cannington, in Australia, increased by 15% in the year-to-date, as the operation realised higher average metal grades and mitigated the impact of heavy rainfall following tropical cyclone Kirrily.

However, the group reported that payable copper-equivalent production from Sierra Gorda, in Chile, decreased by 13%, as higher throughput was offset by lower planned copper grades and lower molybdenum recoveries in the current phase of the mine plan.

Payable nickel production also decreased at Cerro Matoso, in Colombia, by 5% in the year-to-date, although an increase of 8% was recorded for the March quarter owing to higher planned nickel grades.

Illawarra’s 60% increase in production during the quarter was attributed to the operation having completed two planned longwall moves in the previous quarter and improved longwall performance at the Appin mine.

South Africa Manganese also achieved record production, delivering an 8% uplift in year-to-date production.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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