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South32 books YOY rise in fiscal Q1'20 metallurgical, energy coal output

South32 Ltd. said Oct. 17 that its metallurgical coal output grew to 1.65 million tonnes in the first quarter of its fiscal 2020 from 1.52 Mt in the year-ago period following two longwall moves that boosted output at the Illawarra operations in New South Wales.

Energy coal output in the September quarter slightly rose to 6.72 Mt from 6.56 Mt year over year. Aluminum production remained unchanged at 248,000 tonnes, while alumina output was up to 1.31 Mt from 1.16 Mt.

The company achieved record quarterly production of 356,000 tonnes at its Brazil Alumina operations, a 17% jump year over year.

Manganese ore output fell to 1.42 million wet tonnes from 1.45 Mt, while manganese alloy production slipped to 44,000 tonnes from 52,000 tonnes.

Payable zinc production rose to 18,400 tonnes, from 13,200 tonnes a year ago, while silver output was down to 2.97 million ounces from 3.19 Moz. Payable nickel output slid to 10,600 tonnes, from 10,700 tonnes a year ago.

The company maintained its fiscal 2020 production guidance for all operations.

South32 was recently reported to be considering options for its Temco manganese alloy smelter in Tasmania, Australia, including closing, mothballing or selling the asset. In the latest news release, the company confirmed it was reviewing its manganese alloy smelters as "changes in market dynamics have reduced the attractiveness of our exposure" and said it would update the market in the March 2020 quarter.

On a yearly basis, alumina sales were up 8% at 918,000 tonnes, South African energy coal's domestic sales were down 9% to 3.73 Mt, while Illawarra's total coal sales were up 23% at 1.85 Mt, which primarily consisted of metallurgical coal shipments. Silver sales were down 23% to 2.36 Moz, while zinc shipments more than doubled to 18,900 tonnes.