South32's CEO notes strong FY16 op. performance

South32 Ltd's CEO, Graham Kerr, said the company's FY 2016 operating performance was strong, with annual production records at Australia Manganese, Worsley Alumina, Brazil Alumina, Mozal Aluminium and Cannington, For payable zinc.

He said South32 achieved guidance for the majority of its other operations.

"We implemented our Regional Model, and restructured our operations, which I will discuss in more detail shortly," Kerr said. "While our operating performance was strong, as David mentioned, our safety performance in the past year has been unacceptable.

"We tragically lost four of our colleagues at our African operations, which was devastating for not only their loved ones, but for all of us at South32," said Kerr in presentation notes for South32's AGM.

"We need a complete step-change in our approach and behaviour. We are committed to investing time, energy and leadership to make a meaningful and sustainable change, to get this right.

"We have implemented Our Care Strategy, and we are developing a culture of care and accountability by building an inclusive workplace where everyone feels comfortable to bring their whole self to work, where work is well-designed and we continuously improve and learn.

"Our systems need to be simple, well understood and reliable, delivering safe outcomes for our people.

"Throughout FY16, we stayed true to our strategy, to optimise our operations, unlock their potential by converting our high quality resources into reserves, and identify and pursue investment opportunities beyond our current portfolio.

"We spent the majority of our time optimising our operations. We transitioned to a Regional Model, and implemented a number of restructuring initiatives across the business.

"By optimising our operations and maintaining a focus on value over volume we generated controllable cost savings of US386 million dollars and reduced capital expenditure by US306 million dollars.

"We also continued to unlock the potential of our operations.

"At GEMCO in the Northern Territory, Australia, we reached a landmark agreement to mine the Eastern Leases and explore the highly prospective Southern Areas, which have the potential to substantially extend the life of one of the world's largest and lowest cost manganese mines.

"At Illawarra Metallurgical Coal, the US 565 million dollar Appin Area 9 project, which was delivered three months ahead of schedule and 33 per cent below budget, increases production capacity at the operation.

"This solid foundation positions us well to unlock the resource potential of our existing operations, the majority of which have significant reserve lives that underpin a stable production outlook.

"In FY16, we made our first investment in an opportunity beyond our current portfolio, signing an option agreement with Northern Shield Resources at the Huckleberry property in Canada.

"This agreement represents a low-cost entry into the Labrador Trough, a province identified as being highly prospective for copper, nickel and platinum group elements.

"Just last month, we entered into an agreement to acquire the Metropolitan Colliery and its interest in the Port Kembla Coal Terminal from Peabody Energy Corporation.

"Metropolitan is adjacent to our Illawarra operation in New South Wales, so it is a natural fit for our portfolio, and will enable us to unlock unique blending and resource synergies, whilst adding up to two million tonnes per annum of metallurgical coal to our portfolio.

"Consistent with our strategy, we will continue to identify and evaluate new and exciting opportunities outside our current portfolio, where we see value.

"But we won't compromise our balance sheet.

"South32 has achieved a lot in the first 12 months and performed well in a challenging environment. We are committed to deliver on the intent of Our Care Strategy, and our key priorities, to build an even stronger company in FY17."

At 9:50am: (LON:S32) South32 Limited share price was -1.37p at 167.13p