October 17, 2018 / 10:34 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Australia's South32 1st-qtr coking coal production triples

(Adds performance metrics, CEO comment)

Oct 18 (Reuters) - Australian miner South32 on Thursday said first-quarter coking coal output more than tripled from the same year-ago period, helped by robust production at its Appin and Dendrobium collieries.

Production of coking coal, also known as metallurgical coal, at the mines in Illawarra rose to 1.5 million tonnes in the first quarter of the 2019 fiscal year from 494,000 tonnes a year earlier. That handily beat a UBS estimate of 1.2 million tonnes.

South32 had suspended operations at its Appin coal mine on the order of a government regulator last June due to concerns over high gas levels in the mine.

“Illawarra Metallurgical Coal ... enjoyed a strong start to the year as an improvement in longwall productivity underpinned an annualised production rate of 7.6Mt in the quarter,” Chief Executive Graham Kerr said in a statement.

The world’s largest manganese miner produced 1.4 million tonnes of the commodity during the quarter, about 11 percent higher over last year.

However, in the July-September quarter, the company reported a 12 percent drop up in alumina sales from its Worsley Alumina refinery, hit by maintenance efforts.

South32 maintained fiscal 2019 production guidance for all its operations. (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan and Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru Editing by James Dalgleish)

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