Amplats' third-quarter refined output falls on Polokwana smelter rebuild, loadshedding

Amplats CEO Natascha Viljoen

Amplats CEO Natascha Viljoen

27th October 2022

By: Chanel de Bruyn

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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Platinum group metals (PGMs) miner Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) reported a 6% year-on-year decrease in total PGMs production to 1.05-million ounces for the third quarter.

Production was, however, 1% higher compared with the second quarter of this year.

PGMs production from Amplats' own-managed mines decreased by 3% to 587 200 oz, primarily as a result of loadshedding implemented by power utility Eskom, lower production from Amandelbult owing to infrastructure closures and lower grades at Mogalakwena, but partially offset by strong production from Unki and Mototolo.

PGMs production at Mogalakwena decreased by 6% to 259 300 oz. Tonnes milled increased by 2%, as the North concentrator maintenance continued into the third quarter, resulting in the planned South concentrator maintenance being postponed to the third quarter of 2023.

This was offset by a 7% reduction in platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold (4E) built-up head grade to 2.84 g/t from 3.05 g/t, owing to a delay in accessing the higher-grade South pits due to community protests.

PGMs production from Amandelbult decreased by 12% to 192 600 oz, largely owing to the closure of Tumela Upper conventional infrastructures that reached their end of life in December 2021, as well as the impact of loadshedding.

Mototolo's PGMs production, however, increased by 9% to 75 400 oz, mainly as a result of an improvement in ground conditions, which resulted in a 5% increase in 4E built-up head grade to 3.39 g/t, as well as increased stability following the ramp-up of the concentrator debottlenecking project.

Unki's PGMs production increased by 41% to 59 900 oz, on the back of the concentrator debottlenecking project having been completed in the fourth quarter of 2021. The debottlenecking project increased concentrator capacity from 180 000 t a month to 210 000 t a month, leading to a 39% increase in tonnes milled.

Total PGMs production from joint operations decreased by 16% to 192 000 oz.

Modikwa's PGMs production decreased by 6% to 75 200 oz. Despite tonnes milled increasing by 5%, 4E built-up head grade decreased by 6% as higher proportions of Merensky ore and surface material, which have a lower grade, were milled.

Kroondal's PGMs production decreased by 21% to 116 800 oz largely owing to the gradual ramp-down at Simunye shaft – which is expected to shut down in the fourth quarter – geologically challenging ground at the Bambanani and Kwezi shafts and loadshedding.

Refined PGMs production, meanwhile, decreased by 30% to 994 800 oz in the third quarter, as a result of the rebuild of the Polokwane smelter, which is undergoing its first full rebuild in 12 years.

Amplats notes that loadshedding negatively impacted on its concentrators and smelters in the third quarter, resulting in a build-up of work-in-progress inventory to 40 400 oz of PGMs for the third quarter.

"We maintain our guidance for 2022 and are carefully monitoring the continued impact of power outages on our operations as we progress through the fourth quarter,” comments CEO Natascha Viljoen.

Amplats' full-year metal-in-concentrate PGMs production guidance remains at 3.9-million to 4.30-million ounces, while its refined production guidance for the full-year remains unchanged at between 3.7-million and 3.9-million ounces.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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