South32 has posted record annual production at its Worsley Alumina operation south of Perth and all-time high quarterly production at its South Africa manganese business.
The records were noted in the Perth-based company’s June quarter report out Monday, which said South32 had performed strongly across its operations in the three-month period despite extreme weather, supply chain disruptions and reduced labour availability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Worsley posted a 1 per cent lift annual production to 3.99 million tonnes in the year to the end of June, which exceeded the company’s guidance as well as the asset’s nameplate capacity, as South32 benefited from recent improvement initiatives.
Meanwhile South Africa Manganese delivered record output in the June 2022 quarter after increasing manganese production by 22 per cent, supporting higher sales with customer demand for premium products delivering strong price realisations.
South32’s chief executive Graham Kerr said the company had achieved further significant milestones as its reshaped its portfolio towards the metals critical for a low carbon future.
“Our strong financial position and capital management framework, which is designed to reward our shareholders as our financial performance improves, supported further returns across the year via our on-market share buy-back, bringing total returns under our capital management program to $US1.9 billion since its inception,” he said.
South32 said its stable operating performance had allowed it to capitalise on record conditions for a number of its commodities, with strong sales in the June 2022 quarter capturing the benefit of high prices.
The diversified miner also benefited from depreciating currency movements in its producer countries allowing it to report financial year 2022 operating costs in line with previously updated guidance.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Kaan Peker said he expected strong capital management when the company delivered its full-year result next month with expectations of a 12¢ final dividend and 8-9¢ special.
He said South32 traded at a discount to its diversified peers despite strong free cashflow, earnings growth and a materially improved portfolio and commodity mix. The bank has a $5 price target on the stock
South32 shares closed up 3¢ at $3.56.