Picture: REUTERS/DAVID GRAY
Picture: REUTERS/DAVID GRAY

Diversified miner South32 said on Thursday it expected full-year South African thermal coal production to fall 11% year on year, with the company grappling with the fallout from community protests in Mpumalanga.

A slower-than-expected ramp up at its Klipspruit mine also weighed on the miner's performance, with thermal coal exports expected to fall 7% in the company's financial year to end-June. 

South32 is in the process of exiting its South African coal business, saying on Thursday its binding bids were expected in the current quarter to end-June.

South32 is scaling down its presence in SA, but will retain aluminium and manganese interests. It maintained production guidance at Hillside Aluminium and Mozal Aluminium despite higher incidences of rolling blackouts by Eskom.

The company remains cash-flush, saying that net cash increased by $48M to $726M during the March 2019 quarter despite a rise in working capital and the continuation of its capital management program.

South32 CEO Graham Kerr said on Thursday the company's focus remained on mitigating inflationary pressure, with the company maintaining its full-year unit-cost guidance for all its operations.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za