South32 withdraws June production guidance

Company News

by Glenn Dyer

Damage caused by this week’s cyclone in the Gulf of Carpentaria has seen South32 (ASX:S32) withdraw its 20 June 2024 production guidance for its Australian manganese business on Groote Eylandt.

South32’s statement to the ASX on Wednesday revealed it is the fourth major miner to be impacted by a late surge in the wet season in parts of WA and the Northern Territory.

Previously, WA gold miners Capricorn Metals (ASX:CMM), Gold Road Resources (ASX:GOR) and Regis Resources (ASX:RRL) (all in and around the Laverton area of WA’s north-eastern goldfields) revealed delays and reduced production estimates for the March quarter from a big rain event earlier this month (and one in January for Capricorn Metals).

In the statement, the company said operations at its Groote Eylandt Mining Company (GEMCO) mines and processing plant "remain temporarily suspended due to the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Megan."

"The safety of our people and the community on Groote Eylandt remains our highest priority. Importantly, our workforce is safe and there have been no recordable injuries to personnel at the operations."

South32 said that while access to key infrastructure has been restored, an initial assessment of the cyclone’s impact has revealed damage to some key parts of the infrastructure, including roads, a bridge and port and wharf facilities.

"Initial assessments have identified flooding in the mining pits, as well as significant damage to a critical haul road bridge that connects the northern pits of the Western Leases mining area and the processing plant.

“Significant structural damage to the wharf and port infrastructure has now also been confirmed.

Further assessment of the full impact of the damage is ongoing and will inform recovery plans, with a view to returning to safe operations as soon possible. Alternative shipping arrangements are also being evaluated,” the company explained.

South32 said that as a result of the damage and until it can get a better idea of the impact on production and sales "we are withdrawing guidance for Australia Manganese and will provide a further update in our March 2024 Quarterly Report” in April.

The company had forecast production for the year around 3.4 million tonnes, after 1,679 million were produced in the December half year. Full year production in 2022-23 was 3.54 million tonnes. The forecast dip this financial year was expected due to the mining of areas with lower grade ore. 

Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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