South32 is in 'better shape to deliver value' says Chief Executive
JOHANNESBURG - Diversified global mining company South32 has lifted the suspension of its share buy-back on a robust outlook for its markets. Chief executive Graham Kerr said yesterday that the group was in better shape to deliver value to its shareholders.
“With another quarter of strong operating performance behind us and the further strengthening of our financial position, we have lifted the suspension of our on-market share buy-back. Our capital management programme has $121million (R2billion) remaining and recommencing our buy-back will deliver immediate value to our shareholders,” said Kerr.
In March the Australian and JSE-listed South32 suspended its on-market share buy-back programme to protect its balance sheet amid the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In August the group announced a 12-month extension to the programme’s execution window to September 3, 2021.
It said that since inception, $1bn has been allocated to the on-market share buy-back, representing 477 million shares at an average price of A$2.94 (R34.42) per share, and US$292m returned in the form of special dividends.
South32 said the return of its South African manganese unit to full production during the September quarter had resulted in a surge in output.
South Africa Manganese saleable ore production increased by 55percent or 207000 wet metric tons (kwmt) to 581000 kwmt as the operation returned to full capacity, following the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in the prior quarter.
The group delivered a 19 percent increase in manganese production to 1.46 million tons.
“We took advantage of favourable market conditions by utilising higher cost trucking as an alternate route to market while rail logistics continued to normalise,” said Kerr.
The group did not produce any manganese alloy in September quarter as its Metalloys manganese alloy smelter remained on care and maintenance.
In July Metalloys was temporarily shut after South32 considered its future economic viability.
Metalloys in Meyerton, in Gauteng, had it grappled with the cost of power and had been hit with the volatility of the manganese price environment.
The group also said its South Africa Energy Coal saleable production increased by 20 percent or 1 million tons to 6.3 million tons as production ramped up following the disruption to operations caused by the nationwide Covid-19 restrictions in the prior quarter.
“Export sales benefited as additional volumes were delivered from new pits at the Klipspruit colliery,” said Kerr.
South32 shares closed 2.85percent higher at R25.59 on the JSE yesterday.