South32 acquires 25% more of Mozal Aluminium

Australian miner South32 has exercised its right to purchase a further 25% interest in Mozambique-based Mozal Aluminium from Mitsubishi’s MCA Metals for $250 million.

The move increases South32’s total ownership of the smelter to 72.1%. Increasing the shareholding lifts South32’s group-wide annualised equity share of aluminium production by 15% or 145 000 tons to 1 138 000 tons.

South32 CEO Graham Kerr said: “We have established a long operating track record at the Mozal Aluminium smelter in Mozambique over the past 20 years.”

Mozal Aluminium is an aluminium smelter and transport infrastructure located 20km west of Maputo.

Kerr said: “The smelter benefits from access to hydroelectric power and key export markets into Europe. Our investment in the AP3XLE energy-efficiency technology is expected to further improve the competitiveness of the smelter, which continues to operate at its technical capacity. “

“The smelter is an important customer for the alumina produced from our Worsley Alumina refinery and the transaction will further integrate that relationship in our supply chain.”

South32 is also working with its partner at the Alumar refinery in Brazil to study a smelter restart using renewable energy.

Kerr added: “Both investments are consistent with our strategy to increase our exposure to the base metals required for the critical transition to a low carbon future.”

South32’s Hillside aluminium smelter in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, produces primary aluminium for export markets. To support the development of the downstream aluminium industry in South Africa, a portion of liquid metal is supplied to Isizinda Aluminium which, in turn, supplies aluminium slab to Hulamin, a local company that produces products for the domestic and export markets. Hillside’s capacity of 720 000 tons a year makes it the largest producer of primary aluminium in the southern hemisphere.

Aluminium is made by crushing and refining bauxite – an aluminium ore – into a white alumina powder then smelting the white alumina powder into aluminium metal.