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Implats on track despite power issues, unrest

South Africa-based Impala Platinum says it’s on track to meet guidance despite challenges in the March quarter.
Implats on track despite power issues, unrest Implats on track despite power issues, unrest Implats on track despite power issues, unrest Implats on track despite power issues, unrest Implats on track despite power issues, unrest

Impala Platinum’s Zimplats operations in Zimbabwe were impacted by a fatality in February

Ngaire McDiarmid

Reporter

"Our people were faced with additional hurdles created by intermittent power provision and elevated community unrest in South Africa - a harsh reminder of the challenging socioeconomic environment, which has been compounded by the scourge of COVID-19," CEO Nico Muller said.

"Rand PGM pricing remains elevated, and we are pleased to be able to reiterate our key guidance metrics for FY2021, while reaffirming our commitment and ability to deliver significant value to all our stakeholders."

The group's mine-to-market 6E concentrate production for the March quarter improved by 6% to 704,000 ounces, with the previous corresponding period impacted by South Africa's nationwide lockdown to address the pandemic.

The company recorded one mining fatality during the quarter, at Zimplats in February.

This resulted in the temporary closure of the Ngwarati mine, which was expected to return to full production by the end of FY21, with Zimplats' 6E concentrate production down 8% to 138,000oz for the quarter.

Refined 6E production fell 7% to 800,000oz, which Implats said was due to Eskom issues, a furnace re-line at Zimplats, the start of scheduled maintenance at the No 5 Furnace at Impala Rustenburg and interruptions to third-party hydrogen supply at the Base Metals Refinery at the start of the period.

Implats said 6E sales volumes increased 14% to 862,000oz, broadly in-line with contractual requirements, with some additional destocking of iridium and ruthenium as demand and pricing improved for these metals.

Mine-to-market 6E concentrate production for the nine months to March 31 rose 9% to 2.19 million ounces, benefitting from the inclusion of Impala Canada for the full reporting period, plus higher volumes at Impala Rustenburg, Marula, Two Rivers and Mimosa.

"Our focus for the rest of the financial year is on optimising Impala Canada, the production ramp-up of the growth shafts at Impala Rustenburg, advancing processing projects to improve efficiencies and flexibility at Zimplats, Mimosa and Two Rivers, and completing definitive feasibility studies for life-of-mine extensions through existing infrastructure at Marula and Mimosa," Muller said.

Implats said managing the pandemic remained "a critical imperative" but said pleasingly, it had seen a reduction in active and new cases as the second wave receded, despite travel over the Easter break.

The platinum group metals producer had reported stellar half-year results for the six months to December 31, thanks to a high PGM basket price and strong production, safety and sales performance.

At the time it put FY21 group refined production guidance at 3.2-3.5Moz 6E, stock-adjusted operating costs at R14,600-15,100/oz 6E and capex at R5.8-6.2 billion.

Implats shares (JSE: IMP) closed down 2.28% on Friday to R271.53, remaining near the top of a one-year range, valuing it about R213 billion (US$15 billion).