South32, a diversified global mining company spun out of BHP Billiton, posted strong cash generation and a remarkably robust balance sheet, despite a tough March quarter, the third in its 2017 financial year. South32 reported cash of $1.5bn at the end of the March quarter, an increase of $645m despite what CEO Graham Kerr called "several operational challenges" in the three months. The increased cash raised expectations among some analysts of a bigger share buyback programme than the $500m begun in April. Macquarie resources analyst Hayden Bairstow said South32 could broaden its $500m buy-back in 2017, because of strong cash flows, referring to a cash balance that had grown from zero to $1.5bn in little more than a year. South32 was also looking for early-stage projects and was looking at base-metal prospects in Australia and Peru and a copper prospect in Alaska, Kerr said. Operationally, there were setbacks at South32’s thermal-coal operations in SA, its metallurgical-coal mines in...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as articles from our international business news partners; ProfileData financial data; and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now