IMPALA Platinum (Implats) got off to a relatively slow start to its 2020 financial year owing to a combination of planned maintenance-related interruptions, as well as unplanned hiccoughs including a mill failure at it Mimosa operation in Zimbabwe.
Refined platinum production for the first quarter came in at 281,000 ounces, significantly down on the 369,000 oz produced in the 2018 first (September) quarter. Palladium output was 161,000 oz compared to 201,000 oz last year.
“We knew our first quarter would be characterised by an increase in working capital due to our stringent maintenance schedule at key processing assets,” said Nico Muller, CEO of Implats in a statement today.
This related to scheduled maintenance at the Zimplats smelter and the Impala Rustenburg acid plant which resulted in a build-up in concentrate stocks, the company said.
Muller said the company was managing the surprise events: concentrate production was affected at Mimosa after “… extended repairs to one of the milling circuits”. As a result, mined volumes – which were unaffected – were stockpiled resulting in a 16% decline in milled material. Platinum in concentrate production was 16.4% lower.
The ‘challenges’ at Two Rivers, one of Implats’ joint ventures, continued. There was extended maintenance and metallurgical problems at the concentrator which resulted in a heavy fall in concentrate production by 23.4% to 29,000 oz.
Pricing of the rand-basket for platinum group metals (PGMs) is forgiving, however. Muller said the markets for the firm’s products “remain buoyant”. The company is also propelled by closing down debt by means of converting its dollar bond. It also bid $758m for North American Palladium, a Canadian PGM producer.