SYDNEY Feb 16 Stronger coal and manganese
prices lifted half-year underlying earnings from continuing
operations at Australia's South32 18-fold to $479
million from a year earlier, beating market expectations.
The miner, built around a group of unwanted assets spun-off
by BHP Billiton , also declared its first
interim dividend of 3.6 U.S. cents a share.
"The disciplined application of our strategy and stronger
commodity prices underpinned a significant improvement in
financial performance," Chief Executive Graham Kerr said in a
South32's share price has more than doubled over the past
year, aided by the timely acquisition of a metallurgical coal
mine in Australia from Peabody Energy.
The miner also enjoyed surging manganese and metallurgical
coal prices - up 300 percent and 200 percent respectively in
2016 - but prices are now in decline.
So far this year, manganese is down 41 percent from its 2016
peak, while metallurgical coal is off 47 percent.
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Richard Pullin)