Records rain on South32 in 2021

Illawarra Metallurgical Coal. Image: South32

South32 has met or exceeded production expectations across its Australian operations, not allowing inclement weather to diminish a strong March quarter.

Worsley Alumina, in which South32 owns 86 per cent, is on track to achieve nameplate capacity of 4.7 million tonnes at its bauxite mine in Western Australia.

One of the world’s largest sources of alumina, the mine has undergone planned maintenance to its calciner which allowed nameplate to be achieved.

South32 has set a year-to-date production record for its Australian manganese operations at the Groote Eylandt Mining Company operation (GEMCO) in the Northern Territory.

The 4.329 million wet metric tonnes of high-grade manganese produced were a 5 per cent increase on last year’s prior corresponding results.

Despite this, production guidance of 3500 wet metric tonnes for the manganese operation will remain unchanged in consideration of the effects of the wet season.

“We set year to date production records at Brazil alumina and Australia Manganese,” South32 chief executive Graham Kerr said.

“We increased our production guidance for South Africa manganese as we continue to respond to market conditions and at Cannington off the back of continued strong underground performance.”

At the Cannington silver and lead mine in north west Queensland, South32 increased its production guidance by 10 per cent for the 2021 fiscal year, despite also being hit with torrential rain through the March quarter.

Silver production was almost 3.5 million ounces for the March quarter, an 11 per cent increase on the previous period, while lead jumped by 6 per cent on the last quarter to 33,000 tonnes.

South32 expects weather-related disruptions to Cannington’s rail logistics to be resolved over the coming quarter, making March’s strong results all the more impressive.

On the company’s length of positive results, Kerr said they only strengthened confidence in the future for South32.

“Looking ahead, we expect the global economic recovery combined with fiscal stimulus to continue, driving a rebound in metal demand and sustaining higher prices for many of our key commodities,” Kerr said.

“We continue to reshape our portfolio, moving closer to the divestment of South Africa Energy Coal while progressing studies for our base metals development options.”

At South32’s Illawarra metallurgical coal operation in New South Wales, the company reported a 17 per cent increase in year-to-date production.

It produced 1.57 million tonnes of metallurgical coal during the March quarter, which was a 12 per cent increase on the previous quarter.

This increase was thanks in part to the Appin project’s longwall reconfiguration in late-2019, allowing for improved efficiencies.

The coal operation will now look to the June quarter of 2021 for the next stage in its longwall reconfiguration, in hopes that further efficiencies can allow for greater production and less resource waste.

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