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South32 expects Australia manganese exports to restart in about a year

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Co keeps FY24 Australia manganese production guidance withdrawn

Australia manganese exports expected to restart in Jan-March 2025

Adds further background information, details throughout

By Adwitiya Srivastava

April 22 (Reuters) -South32 S32.AX said on Monday it would take about a year to restart manganese ore exports from Australia after a tropical cyclone last month damaged infrastructure there and forced it to withdraw its annual estimates for the business.

The diversified miner expects to restart wharf operations and export sales from its Australia Manganese business between January and March 2025 as per a preliminary schedule estimate.

South32 in March withdrew its FY24 forecast for Australian manganese output after Tropical Cyclone Megan shut operations at its Groote Eylandt Mining Co (GEMCO) unit in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The company kept its forecast withdrawn on Monday.

The world's largest producer of manganese, which is used to strengthen steel and also used in some type of batteries, said it was considering alternative shipping options to mitigate the impact of the wharf outage at Australia Manganese.

"South32 does have business interruption insurance but too early to say at this stage what the recovery might be," analysts at Citi said in a note.

South32 in February struck a deal to sell its Illawarra Metallurgical Coal operations to an entity owned by Golden Energy and Resources (GEAR) and M Resources for $1.65 billion.

The company said the deal was expected to be completed by the first half of fiscal 2025, adding that the Illawarra operations produced 1.2 million tons of metallurgical coal during the March quarter, in line with estimates compiled by Citi.

Copper output from the Sierra Gorda mine in Chile came in at 13.9 kilo tons, missing Citi estimates by 18%.

Manganese ore production stood at 1.2 million wet metric tons (wmt) for the quarter ended March 31, compared with 1.3 million wmt a year earlier.

The company's net debt was $937 million at the end of March, down $154 million in the quarter on improved operating performance and partial unwind in working capital.

Reporting by Adwitiya Srivastava and Shivangi Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler, Stephen Coates and Subhranshu Sahu


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