Australian metals miner South32 is well on its way to becoming a global, diversified metals firm thanks to the significant changes the firm has undergone in the past year, noted the company’s chief development officer Simon Collins in a virtual conference held last week.
Collins told the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada online conference that his company is progressing towards shaping itself to take advantage of the myriad of new opportunities presented in the coming low-carbon marketplace for aluminium and other critical metals.
“Study outcomes for our world-class development options in North America underline their potential to supply critical minerals into the future. Our consistent execution is underpinned by our disciplined capital allocation and strong balance sheet.”
Collins went on to say that at the outset South32’s initial exposure to metals needed for a low-carbon economy sat at 53 percent at the company’s founding in 2015. Since then, the firm’s overall exposure has risen to nearly three-quarters of its operations, with more expected as the company grows.
Ultimately, South32 hopes to achieve net-zero carbon production by 2050, with a near-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by half by 2025. The firm is aiming at doubling its production of low-carbon aluminium by the end of next year thanks in part to the restart of its Brazilian aluminium smelter and its coming acquisition of an additional 16.6 percent of Mozal Aluminium.
Collins noted that Brazil Aluminium currently runs on renewable energy alone, placing it in the second quartile of the world’s aluminium cost curve.
“All going well, we expect the smelter will have ramped up to full capacity by the middle of 2023.”
“Our next phase of growth is expected to come from our base metals development options in North America,” he continued, referring to the polymetallic mine in Hermosa, Arizona and the Ambler Metals joint venture in Alaska.
Based in Perth, Western Australia, South32 began in 2015 as a spin-off of BHP Billiton. The firm operates mines in Australia, South America, and South Africa, and markets bauxite, alumina, aluminium, copper, silver, lead, zinc, nickel, metallurgical coal, and manganese.