Following a 90-day suspension of operations at its Temco manganese alloy facility in Tasmania, Australia, to review the economic viability of continuing operations, BHP Billiton announced that full operations will be restarted immediately. The company’s intention is to have all four furnaces operating by the end of August 2012.

“In February, the decision was taken to suspend production at Temco due to operating losses,” said Bryan Quinn, Australian asset president, BHP Billiton Manganese. “Extensive stakeholder consultation and assessment of all options for Temco has been undertaken over the last three months. Thanks to the extensive investigation by Temco employees of these options, and the flexibility provided by several stakeholders, significant cost reduction opportunities have been identified, primarily in the areas of workforce efficiency, power supply flexibility, ore blending and freight optimization. These changes should allow Temco to return to a globally competitive position.”

“One of the key changes as we restart will be the operational separation of the Temco alloying facility from the Gemco mine, located in the Northern Territory,” said Tom Schutte, president, BHP Billiton Manganese. “This separation introduces the ability to blend in other ore sources, which will improve operating performance.”

BHP said a reduced organizational structure will be implemented for the restart. This will be achieved through natural attrition, an employment freeze and re-deployment within BHP.

Temco, which is part of the manganese joint venture between BHP (60%) and Anglo American (40%), produces approximately 65,000 metric tons (mt) of silico manganese and 240,000 mt of high-carbon ferro manganese. BHP Billiton manages the operation.