News, Quarterly and half yearly results, Safety, South32

South32 celebrates safety

While South32 experienced lower metallurgical coal volumes in the 2023–24 financial half year (FY24), its safety wins were a boon for the company.

The lower coal volumes were attributed to the miner completing planned longwall moves at its Illawarra metallurgical coal mine in New South Wales.

South32 chief executive officer Graham Kerr said the company’s focus on costs and identifying further opportunities to drive efficiencies supported FY24 operating unit cost guidance being lowered.

“Looking forward, we remain focused on driving operating performance and cost efficiencies across our business,” he said.

“This focus, combined with our expected seven per cent production uplift in the second half, places us in a strong position to capture higher margins as market conditions improve.”

Looking to safety, South32’s total recordable injury frequency (TRIF) was down to 5.2 in the first half of FY24 from 5.9 in FY23. Both scores are already well below the industry weighted average of 8.3. 

“Our TRIF reduced by 12 per cent over H1 FY24, and we expect the lost time injury frequency (LTIF) to follow this positive reporting trend over time,” South32 said.  

“We have seen improved hazard awareness with a 29 per cent increase in the hazard frequency metric over H1 FY24.” 

The company also recorded zero deaths for the first half of FY24.

Perhaps the biggest win for the company came from its $US2.16 billion development of the Taylor critical minerals deposit at its Hermosa project in Arizona, US.

Kerr said the decision was a milestone for Hermosa and the company as it reshapes its portfolio towards commodities for a low-carbon future.

“Taylor is expected to deliver attractive returns over multiple decades, with the feasibility study confirming the potential for a long-life, low-cost, low-carbon operation, with an initial operating life of 28 years, an average earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) margin of 50 per cent and an internal rate of return of 12 per cent,” he said.

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