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JOHANNESBURG - Australian-based South32 yesterday (Thursday) firmed its balance sheet on the back of strengthening commodity prices in the full year to June 2017. 

South32, which was spun off from BHP Billiton in 2015, said it had expanded its share buyback programme to $750m from $500m. Revenue surged 20% to $7bn.

South32 chief executive, Graham Kerr said free cash flow more than tripled to $1.9bn and the company finished the year with a net cash balance of S$1.6bn. The group said that higher metallurgical coal and manganese prices had helped to boost its sales revenue to $1.1bn level despite lower volumes. 

Its net cash balance was at at $1.6bn  and it had swung to a $1.2bn profit from a $1.6bn  loss in 2016. 

“South Africa manganese saleable ore production increased by 19% to  2m wet metric ton (Mwmt)  as we continued to take advantage of stronger demand and pricing by utilising higher cost trucking activity and opportunistically selling fine grained Wessels concentrate,” Kerr said.