South32 has lifted its full-year net profit by eight per cent to $US1.33 billion ($A1.81 billion), helped by cost reductions and stronger commodity prices.

The diversified miner posted a 16 per cent rise in underlying earnings to $US1.33 billion, matching analyst expectations of around $1.32 billion.

The strong result appeared to be welcomed by the market, with South32 shares jumping 5.4 per cent to $3.44 by 1420 AEST.

The world’s largest manganese miner said healthy demand for manganese helped offset tepid coal output that resulted from technical hurdles at its Illawarra project, which is now expected to return to historical production levels in fiscal 2020.

Manganese prices have surged nearly 60 per cent year-to-date, on the back of higher demand for the metal in battery technology as automakers increasingly look to electric vehicles.

South32’s annual manganese output rose 10 per cent while full-year coking coal output fell but beat estimates as production ramped up at its Illawarra project, where work was stalled at its Appin coal mine last year due to elevated gas levels.

The miner said Illawarra continues to recover, with 6.1 million tonnes of production expected in fiscal 2019 and an anticipated return to historical rates of over 8 million tonnes per annum from second-half of fiscal 2020.

South32 resolved to pay a a fully-franked final dividend of 6.2 US cents per share, down from 6.4 US cents a year ago.

The company, which has nearly doubled in value since it was hived off from BHP Billiton in 2015, last November announced plans to cut interest in its South African coal business and this month completed the purchase of Canada’s Arizona Mining.

“We will also commence a process to broaden South Africa Energy Coal’s ownership in the September 2018 quarter,” said Chief Executive Graham Kerr.

The company expects group production to climb by 5 per cent in fiscal year 2019.


* Net profit up 8pct to $US1.33b

* Revenue up 9pct to $US7.55b

* Fully-franked final dividend up 6.2 US cents/share vs 6.4 US cents year ago.