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South32 reports record quarterly production at South Africa Manganese

South Africa Manganese's Hotazel mine in the Northern Cape.

South32 CEO Graham Kerr.

23rd October 2023

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africa Manganese continued its strong performance in the three months to September 30, when it increased saleable production by 7% to a record 628 000 wet metric tonnes (wmt), South32 reported on Monday.

Moreover, the realised price for optimise mix South Africa Manganese ore sales was a premium of 6%, Sydney-, Johannesburg- and London-listed diversified mining and metals company South32 stated in its release to Mining Weekly.

Owing, however, to third-party port congestion impacting the timing of shipments, sales decreased by 4%. During the current December quarter, additional shipments and drawdown inventories are expected to be completed.

Importantly, South Africa Manganese’s full-year production guidance remains unchanged at 2 000 000 wmt, with planned maintenance scheduled for the December 2023 and March 2024 quarters.

Meanwhile, saleable production from South Africa’s Hillside Aluminium in KwaZulu-Natal remained unchanged at 180 000 t in the September quarter, with the smelter continuing to test its maximum technical capacity despite the impact of elevated loadshedding. As a shipment slipped to the December quarter, September quarter sales decreased by 8%. Remaining unchanged is the full-year Hillside production guidance at 720 000 t.

Saleable production from Mozal Aluminium in Mozambique increased by 2% to 84 000 t in the quarter as the smelter, while managing the impact of elevated loadshedding, continued to implement initiatives to achieve planned equipment utilisation and pot stability.

However, Mozal sales decreased by 32% in the three months to September 30 owing to inventory being built following the planned drawdown in the prior quarter. The inventory position is expected to be lowered to normalised levels during the current quarter, with full-year guidance remaining unchanged at 365 000 t.

“We have maintained annual production guidance for all of our operations with a strong start to the year at our manganese operations,” South32 CEO Graham Kerr stated. There has also been a 34% increase in production at Brazil Alumina and continued growth in low-carbon aluminium volumes.

“With macroeconomic conditions creating headwinds for many of our commodities, we remain focused on driving operating performance and cost efficiencies,” Kerr added.

That focus, along with production growth in commodities for a low-carbon future, positions South32 to potentially capture higher margins as market conditions improve.

At the Hermosa growth project in the US, the feasibility study for the Taylor zinc/lead/silver project is on track to be completed in the current quarter, with federal permitting having commenced for both the Taylor and the Clark battery-grade manganese deposits. The Clark exploration decline is on track to begin during the current quarter.

EXPLORATION

South32 invested $9-million in greenfield exploration opportunities in the quarter, including an exploration drilling programme first at the 100%-owned Roosevelt project in Alaska.

An additional 4.9% equity interest in Aldebaran Resources was acquired for $8-million, taking ownership to 14.8%. Aldebaran has an earn-in to acquire an 80% interest in the Altar copper project in San Juan, Argentina.

Investment in exploration programmes at existing operations and development options totalled $15-million, including  $6-million at Hermosa, $1-million at Ambler Metals and $2-million at Sierra Gorda copper mine in northern Chile.

At Worsley Alumina in Australia, saleable production decreased by 4% to 972 000 t as planned calciner maintenance was completed, and at Brazil Aluminium saleable production was largely unchanged at 24 000 t.

At Cerro Matoso in Colombia, payable nickel production decreased by 19% to 8 300 t owing to plant availability being impacted by planned maintenance and a temporary reduction in third-party gas supply.

At Illawarra Metallurgical Coal in Australia, saleable production decreased by 33% to 1 168 000 t, with full-year production guidance remaining unchanged at five-million tonnes.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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