Today, we released our half year financial results for FY23. Our strong financial result was underpinned by copper-equivalent production growth of 12 per cent, our recent portfolio improvements which have increased our exposure to the commodities critical to a low-carbon future, and our continued focus on cost efficiencies.
While commodity prices retreated from record levels, we delivered one of our largest profit results with Underlying EBITDA of US$1.36 billion.
This has enabled us to announce an interim fully franked ordinary dividend of US$224 million – US 4.9 cents per share - in respect of the December 2022 half year. This is in addition to our record US$784 million US dollar fully franked ordinary and special dividends, returned in October 2022, and US$143 million returned via our on-market share buy-back in the December 2022 half year.
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Reflecting our strong balance sheet and confidence in the business outlook, we have increased our flexible capital management program by US$50m to US$2.3 billion, leaving US$158 million to be returned by 1 September 2023.
Production guidance for the second half of the financial year is unchanged, with a forecast 6 per cent increase in production as we realise the benefit of recently completed improvement projects and ramp-up of the Brazil Aluminium smelter.
We also provided an update on the Hermosa project in Arizona, where the feasibility study for Hermosa’s zinc-lead-silver Taylor deposit remains on-track to support a final investment decision in mid-calendar year 2023. We have also confirmed the potential for Hermosa’s Clark deposit to produce battery-grade manganese for the growing North American electric vehicle supply chain.
We also progressed programs to deliver on our climate change commitments and we remain focused on our medium-term target to halve our operational greenhouse emissions by 2035, from our FY21 baseline.