Maintenance Issues Hamper Production At South32 Alumina And Aluminium Facilities, But Production Forecasts Remain Unchanged

Worsley Alumina South32

Australian metals miner South32 Limited released production results for the first quarter of FY 2019 yesterday, reporting lower outputs at both alumina and aluminium operations, but drops not sufficient to adjust yearly production estimates.

In the just-ended quarter, South32 refined 1,159 thousand metric tons of alumina, off by 11 percent from the preceding quarter. Worsley Alumina contributed 854 thousand metric tons which was down by 9 percent year on year and 13 percent from the previous quarter. The Worsley smelter struggled in the quarter due to maintenance issues, but South32 continues to expect 3,965 thousand metric tons of alumina from the smelter for the fiscal year.

Brazil Alumina contributed 305 thousand metric tons to the total, down by 9 percent year on year and 3 percent from last quarter. However, South32 says unplanned maintenance and power outages in the quarter have not affected Brazil Alumina’s production guidance for the year, which continues to be estimated at 1,355 thousand metric tons.

The firm said favorable economic conditions allowed it to sign agreements to ship stockpiled alumina hydrate in the current quarter while Worsley experiences calciner maintenance.

South32 smelted 248 thousand metric tons of primary aluminium, a 1-percent bump over the previous quarter. Operations at Hillside Aluminium accounted for 180 thousand metric tons, which was identical to the prior fiscal year’s first-quarter total and up by 1 percent over the prior quarter. South32 estimates that, while running at maximum output, the smelter will produce a total of 720 thousand metric tons for the fiscal year.

Mozal Aluminium pitching in an additional 68 thousand metric tons, a drop off of 1 percent year-on-year but an increase of 1 percent over the prior quarter. Upgrades at the smelter during the quarter are expected to yield a 5-percent increase in annual production with no corresponding power increase. However, improvements did not prompt South32 to increase production estimates, which continue to rest at 269 thousand metric tons for the fiscal year.

Based in Perth, Western Australia, South32 began in 2015 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.

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