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Skills shortage in Canada, issues in South Africa impact Implats' production

A critical skills shortage in Canada, scheduled maintenance and a myriad of issues at its flagship Impala Rustenburg operation in South Africa saw Impala Platinum record a 15% drop in PGM production for the September quarter.
Skills shortage in Canada, issues in South Africa impact Implats' production Skills shortage in Canada, issues in South Africa impact Implats' production Skills shortage in Canada, issues in South Africa impact Implats' production Skills shortage in Canada, issues in South Africa impact Implats' production Skills shortage in Canada, issues in South Africa impact Implats' production

PGM producer Impala Platinum’s Impala Rustenburg operations in South Africa

Staff reporter

Gross 6E refined production fell 15% to 741,000 ounces, while 6E concentrate volumes decreased 6% to 809,000oz compared with a year ago.

"The improved organisational flexibility installed over recent years enabled the group to manage several headwinds at the start of FY2022, including unprotected industrial action and intermittent power provision at Impala Rustenburg and a shortage of critical skills at Impala Canada," Implats CEO Nico Muller.

South Africa's inability to deal with its worsening energy crisis would create further PGM supply disruption in the coming years, Singapore-based investment fund Auctus Metal Portfolios had warned in an August report.

Production impacts at Rustenburg, where there was a fatality in August due to a tramming accident, were compounded by increased safety stoppages, cable theft and community disruptions, Implats said.

The company also reported a fatality at Two Rivers, a non-managed joint venture, and said it remained committed to ensuring zero harm.

"After a slow start, operating momentum improved during the quarter as we completed our annual scheduled processing maintenance, the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic receded in South Africa and global logistical constraints started to ease," Muller said.

He did not refer to recent talk of acquiring fellow South Africa-focused platinum group metals producer Royal Bafokeng Platinum

Muller noted Implats continued to "benefit from robust absolute pricing for our products".

"The sustained demand from our customer base is indicative of the strong underlying fundamentals for PGMs," he said.

The company has four operations in South Africa, two in Zimbabwe and one in Canada.

Its shares (JSE: IMP), which have risen by about 35% over the past 12 months, closed down 4.5% on Friday to R197.99, valuing it at R161.8 billion (US$10.6 billion).