South32 posted a record performance at Mozal Aluminium underpinned a 2% increase in total aluminium production in FY17 as our smelters continued to operate at their maximum technical capability.
The refined alumina production was largely unchanged in FY17 as Worsley Alumina operated at its expanded capacity of 4.6Mtpa (100% basis) in the June quarter.
“We delivered record annual production at Mozal Aluminium and stronger aluminium volumes overall as both of our smelters continued to operate at their maximum technical capability. While we didn’t achieve the level of consistency that we expect from our broader portfolio, our alumina, nickel and manganese operations finished the year on a strong note,” says Graham Kerr, South32 Chief Executive Officer.
“Production at the Illawarra Metallurgical Coal Appin colliery remains suspended as a comprehensive review of the operation’s systems and processes is undertaken. This in-depth review has been designed to ensure the operation restarts safely and reliably.”
“We will continue to invest in high quality opportunities where we see value, having acquired a 15% interest in Arizona Mining for $81 million during the quarter. We also allocated $211 million towards our share buy-back program as our balance sheet continued to strengthen.”
Manganese ore production increased by 5% in FY17 as South Africa Manganese continued to take advantage of stronger demand and pricing by maintaining an operating rate of 3.6Mwmt pa (100% basis) in the June quarter.
Meanwhile Cannington recorded a significant decrease in ore grades and metal production in FY17 as high grade stope 60L was only partially extracted in the June quarter and run-of-mine stocks were consumed to support processing rates following a fire in April.
Challenging ground conditions in the new Appin Area 9 longwall block and two extended outages at the Appin colliery led to a 15% decrease in Illawarra Metallurgical Coal production in FY17, despite record run-of-mine performance at Dendrobium.
Adverse weather and an associated delay in the development of new mining areas at the Wolvekrans-Middelburg Complex (WMC) led to a 9% decrease in South Africa Energy Coal production in FY17, despite a sequential improvement in performance in the June quarter.
While the publication of South Africa’s Mining Charter III has created additional uncertainty, its implementation has been suspended pending a judicial review. We remain committed to the country’s transformation agenda, with Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) entities having a 26% equity interest in our South Africa Manganese mines and an 8% equity interest in our South Africa Energy Coal mines, which increases significantly when historic asset transactions are taken into account.