Record Alumina and Aluminium Production Boost South32’s FY2017 Results

Worsley Alumina

Australian metals miner South32 Limited reported results for fiscal year 2017 on Thursday. The firm turned in strong performances across the board over the course of the fiscal year ending on June 30.

Revenue for the year totaled US$6,950 million, a 20-percent improvement over last fiscal year’s revenue total of US$5,812 million. The firm turned a profit in the fiscal year of US$1,795 million, a reversal from last fiscal year’s loss of US$1,441 million. After taxes the firm’s profits for the year totaled US$1,231 million, also a reversal from last year’s post-tax losses of US$1,615 million.

Underlying EBITDA for the just-ended fiscal year totaled US$2,411 million, a 113-percent jump over last fiscal year’s total of US$1,131 million. Underlying earnings totaled US$1,146 million, a 730-percent leap from last year’s number of US$138 million.

“The combination of our high operating leverage and stronger commodity prices delivered a substantial increase in financial performance,” explained South32’s CEO Graham Kerr. “Free cash flow more than tripled to US$1.9B and we finished the year with a net cash balance of US$1.6B.”

South32’s Worsley Alumina refinery stood out among the firm’s facilities, producing 3,892 thousand metric tons in the fiscal year, off by 2 percent from last fiscal’s total of 3,961 thousand metric tons. Brazil Alumina turned out 1,329 thousand metric tons due to production creep and the commencement of de-bottlenecking operations, besting its production total from last year of 1,335 thousand metric tons. South32 expects the refinery to soon reach record production levels as well.

South African Aluminium produced 714 thousand metric tons in fiscal year 2017 after restarting almost two dozen pots in December, increasing production over last fiscal year’s total of 697 thousand metric tons. Mozal Aluminium turned out 271 thousand metric tons of aluminium, good for a 2-percent increase over last fiscal year’s total of 266 thousand metric tons. Going forward, the firm plans for the smelter to achieve benchmark levels of efficiency.

“Our aluminium smelters and refineries operated at their maximum technical capability and Mozal achieved record production. We adjusted production in our manganese business to take advantage of higher prices, consistent with our focus on value over volume. A review of our operating systems and practices at Illawarra Metallurgical Coal is continuing and we are working towards a staged and controlled ramp-up of operations at our Appin colliery, commencing in September.”

Based in Perth, Western Australia, South32 began last summer as a spin-off of BHP Billiton. The firm operates mines in Australia and South Africa, and markets aluminium, manganese, silver, zinc, lead, nickel, coking coal, and thermal coal.



3 Comments

  • Jeff says:

    Possibly wrong about Mozal as it is a 500,000+ tonne a year smelter. Saying it operated at benchmark efficiency in the fiscal year, turning out 271 thousand metric tons of aluminium has drastically reduced its output.

    • Staff says:

      Hello Jeff,

      I’d direct you to page 11 of the release, linked to in the first paragraph. I assume they mean that the output they are producing was achieved at a high level of efficiency?

    • Staff says:

      I corrected the paragraph a bit just now though, as apparently they were attempting to convey the idea that the smelter would be working at benchmark efficiency in the coming years. Mea culpa.

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