South32 longwall changes deliver turnaround at Illawarra

Image: South32

South32 has increased production at its Illawarra metallurgical coal operation by 39 per cent following longwall moves at the Appin and Dendrobium collieries.

The Illawarra mines produced 1.5 million tonnes (Mt) of metallurgical coal in the September quarter, up from 494,000 tonnes a year earlier.

South32 chief executive Graham Kerr said, “Illawarra metallurgical coal enjoyed a strong start to the year as an improvement in longwall productivity underpinned an annualised production rate of 7.6 million tonnes in the quarter.”

The triple production increase is a reversal to the persistent losses at Illawarra, when the Appin colliery was suspended due to an extended outage from January to October last year.

South32 focused on coal clearance and rehabilitation activities during this period to get the colliery back to its historical production levels of over 8Mt a year.

It will now concentrate on completing the two longwall moves and significantly increasing development rates for the remainder of the 2019 financial year.

The uplift is required to maintain the concurrent operation of the two longwalls at the Appin colliery from the first half of 2020, the company said in a statement.

South32 also achieved record quarterly production of manganese ore at its Australian operations.

Australia Manganese’s ore production has increased to 932,000 wet metric tonnes (wmt), up from 865,000wmt during the previous quarter.

Kerr said, “Annual production guidance is maintained for all of our operations, with Australia Manganese achieving another quarterly record and total manganese ore production increasing by 8 per cent.”

The world’s largest manganese producer said it was continuing to take advantage of stronger manganese demand and prices.

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