South32 longwall moves at Illawarra drive production growth

Worlsey Alumina production increased. Image: South32.

South32 has maintained production guidance across its global operations after a strong September 2019 quarter highlighted by rising output at Illawarra Metallurgical Coal in New South Wales.

The company increased saleable production at Illawarra by 30 per cent on the previous quarter (to 2.1 million tonnes) following the completion of two longwall moves.

Illawarra’s Dendrobium and Appin longwalls continue to perform strongly, according to South32, with an increase in the use of longwall automation.

South32’s production guidance at Illawarra in the 2020 financial year remains unchanged at seven million tonnes. The operation has its next longwall moves scheduled during the December 2019 and March 2020 quarters.

“Achieving improved development rates at Appin to support the operation’s return to a three longwall configuration from the June 2020 quarter remains a focus,” South32 reported in an ASX statement.

South32 also recorded a 10 per cent increase in manganese production and made a positive start to the 2020 financial year at its alumina refineries.

At Australia Manganese, the company’s saleable ore production increased by 21 per cent (to 868,000 wet metric tonnes) against the previous quarter.

South32 has maintained its guidance at Australia Manganese, but will continue to monitor market conditions and the potential impact of the wet season across the remainder of the financial year.

The company achieved record production at Brazil Alumina and an impressive quarter at Worsley Alumina as initiatives to increase to nameplate capacity were delivered.

South32 chief executive officer Graham Kerr said the company remained focussed on driving cost and operating performance across its portfolio as macro conditions created headwinds for key commodities.

“Our disciplined approach to capital allocation has allowed us to return a further $US74 million ($108.5 million) with the continuation of our $US1.25 billion capital management program,” Kerr said.

South32 is also on track to finalise Seriti Resources’ offer for its South Africa Energy Coal business in the December quarter, Kerr added.

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