This was announced by BHP on Monday.
Facing sharp price declines in iron ore and other commodities, BHP is hoping that turning its aluminium, nickel, silver and coal divisions into a separate company will benefit other parts of its global operations.
The new name recognises that most of South32's operations are in the southern hemisphere, with its two regional centres - Australia and South Africa - linked by the thirty-second parallel south line of latitude, according to Graham Kerr, chief executive officer elect of South32.
The new entity, with an estimated value of 16 billion US dollars, will have a primary listing on the Australian Securities Exchange, with additional listings in London and Johannesburg.
Kerr said it was a matter of ticking off a long list of requirements before decoupling and taking South32 public, including approvals from joint venture partners.
"I don't really see any major hurdles," Kerr told reporters.
Analysts said [DATA BIL:BHP] still faces a difficult task of promoting investment interest in the new company, while acknowledging it is comprised of businesses it no longer wants.
BHP has identified copper, petroleum, iron ore and metallurgical coal as holding the best growth prospects.
It expects to release documentation of the demerger in March 2015, with a shareholder vote taking place in May.