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South32 has lowered its production guidance for the year across five of its mining operations following a challenging quarter. Meanwhile, Fortescue sees strong results with the first wet concentrate produced at Iron Bridge.

South32 lowered 2023 targets for a handful of commodities including coal, nickel, zinc, and alumina.

“Several operations faced challenging conditions during the quarter,” South32 chief executive officer, Graham Kerr, said in an ASX announcement.

“While we remain on-track to meet 2023 production guidance at the majority of our operations, group production was below plan in the March 2023 quarter due to adverse weather and other temporary impacts.”

Guidance was reduced by four per cent at its Brazil alumina operations owing to a temporary conveyor outage, while the Cerro Matoso nickel operation was reduced by seven per cent due to difficulties accessing higher grade ore.

At its Mozal aluminium operations in Mozambique, guidance was reduced by eight per cent to support a safe recovery plan following the deaths of two employees in November, as well as severe flooding.

Zinc targets were reduced by six per cent at South32’s Cannington operations in Queensland, owing to wet weather.

South32 reduced its metallurgical coal guidance by seven per cent at Illawarra owing to what it describes as challenging strata conditions.

The ASX reacted to the news. When the quarterly report went public on Monday, South32 shares fell from $4.47 per share on Friday close to $4.02 Monday morning.

Despite setbacks, the company also managed to score some points on the board.

“Group-wide copper equivalent production increased by seven per cent, following investments last year which added copper to our portfolio and increased our share of low-carbon aluminium,” Kerr said.

“Manganese ore production has increased by six per cent year-on-year, with Australia manganese achieving record production.”

A lease extension of the Australian manganese project has also been approved, extending the life of the operation.

Another miner, Fortescue Metals, experienced a strong quarter. The company recorded iron ore shipments of 46.3 million tonnes for the quarter, contributing to record nine-month shipments of 143.1 million tonnes.

The company also made progress at its Iron Bridge magnetite project in WA.

“I am pleased to report that the first wet concentrate was produced on Friday,” Fortescue chief executive officer Fiona Hick said.

“This is a significant milestone for Fortescue as Iron Bridge represents our entry into the highest grade segment of the iron ore market…”

Iron Bridge is located roughly 145km south of Port Hedland and when operational is expected to deliver 22 million tonnes per annum of high grade magnetite product.