Tharisa forecasts lift in chrome output in 2023 FY as outlook for metal remains volatile

Chrome concentrate

THARISA ended its 2022 financial year with increased production year-on-year in chrome and platinum group metals (PGMs) and has forecast a lift in chrome output of up to 18.5%  in the current financial year.

Output of chrome totalled 1.56 million tons (Mt), a 5.1% increase over 2021 following a strong showing in the fourth quarter the results of which Tharisa published today. It has forecast output of 1.75 to 1.85Mt this year and PGM output of 175,000 to 185,000 ounces compared to production of 179,200 ounces, an increase over 2021 of 13.6%.

Set against this were vastly differing fortunes for the prices of metals during the year. The average basket price for PGMs of $2,564/oz represented a 16.6% decline year-on-year while the chrome price was $209/t, up 35.7% year-on-year.

Phoevos Pouroulis, CEO of Tharisa, was bullish on the outlook for PGM prices which have corrected in the past 12 months. “Fundamentals for these metals remain strong,” he concluded, after saying that platinum was expected to be in deficit in the next 18 months. PGM prices had not retreated as much as expected, he added.

Chrome pricing had remained volatile in the fourth quarter and the outlook for the metal would remain subject to conflicting push and pull forces.

The prospect of recession would exert downward pressure on pricing offset by supply disruptions. China, a major chrome consumer, would be influential: the relaxation of Covid-19 lockdown policies and the prospect of stimulus could support economic activity.

Tharisa ended the financial year with net cash of $78.6m (as of September 30) ahead of a period of investment. In December, the company is to inaugurate construction of its proposed $250m Karo Platinum project in Zimbabwe. First production of 150,000 oz of concentrate is due in about two years.

In March, Tharisa COO Michelle Taylor warned that the project may face inflation-driven cost pressures. “From a costing point of view – the capital cost – we are looking at those numbers in some detail,” she said.