Strike-hit mining company Impala Platinum (Implats) has produced 25.5% fewer platinum ounces in the three months to September 30 than in the corresponding period last year. In line with reduced platinum production, group unit costs rose 62% to R26 698/oz of platinum, compared with R16 488/oz in the same quarter of last year.
Implats, which had gross cash on hand of R3.3-billion at the end of the quarter, said the strategic operational and project review it was undertaking would be communicated to stakeholders at the time of the release of its interim results in February.
The company produced 280 000 oz of platinum, compared with 376 000 oz in the prior corresponding period, primarily due to lower production at Impala Rustenburg as it ramps up operations following the five-month wage strike, the longest in South African history.
Four employees and one contractor were killed in work-related incidents during the three months. Of the fatal incidents, four occurred at Impala Rustenburg and one at Marula.
Production was also lower at Zimplats in Zimbabwe and the 73%-owned Marula in Mpumalanga, owing to the safety closure of the Bimha mine at Zimplats and labour stoppages and safety impacts at Marula.
“This has been a challenging quarter,” said Implats CEO Terence Goodlace.
The Rustenburg operation is, however, expected to meet its half-year 250 000 oz guidance and full-year 575 000 oz guidance, and higher prices were obtained in the three months for platinum, palladium, rhodium and nickel.
Platinum production at Mimosa in Zimbabwe rose 11%, while Two Rivers in Mpumalanga maintained production at 44 000 oz of platinum.
Impala Refining Services (IRS) throughput rose 11% largely due to the timing of the treatment of stockpiled material.
Impala Rustenburg’s mill throughput fell 57% to 1.29 million tons, compared with three-million tons in the prior corresponding period and refined platinum production was down 59% to 79 000 oz, in line with lower milled production.
Marula’s tons milled declined 16% to 381 000 t, with the mine’s output lowered by an unprotected strike, a fatality and Department of Mineral Resources safety closures.
Grade declined by 8% to 3.92 g/t.
Zimplats’ mill throughput fell 13% to 1.32-million tons, following the Bimha collapse, which decreased platinum in matte by 13% to 52 000 oz.
Six out of the eight mining crews and fleets have been redeployed at Bimha, where platinum production is now expected to be negatively impacted for the financial year by 30 000 oz of platinum and not the originally guided 70 000 oz.
Mimosa’s tons milled rose 4% to 636 000 t and platinum production 12% to 29 000 oz.
IRS refined platinum production rose 11% to 202 000 oz, compared with 181 000 oz in the same quarter last year.
Capital expenditure amounted to R875-million, down from R1.143-billion in the previous corresponding period, owing largely to the post-strike restart of the major projects at Impala Rustenburg and the reduced spend on the Zimplats Phase 2 expansion.