IMPALA Platinum’s (Implats’) mining operations would be at least cash neutral owing to the double benefit of a weaker rand and robust dollar prices for its metals – palladium and rhodium in particular, said the group’s CEO, Nico Muller.
“All our operations will be cash neutral at worst,” he said in an interview with Business Day TV on Thursday. “Dollar prices are very robust especially rhodium which is approaching $6,000 per ounce while palladium is $2,000/oz. Combined with the weaker rand, it has provided robust protection against the loss of production,” he said.
Implats has forecast a 14% decline in full-year mining production as a result of the lockdown response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Muller said that excess inventory totalling 350,000 oz (6E) meant it could continue to deliver into the market.
“Fortunately, the smelters and refineries were allowed to continue during the lockdown so to the extent that we have limited infections (of COVID-19) we are confident,” he said.
Implats reported on May 17 a cluster of 19 infections at its Marula joint venture which resulted in the closure of the mine. Muller said the company had tested 1,400 people of which 1,100 had been at Marula.
Whilst this was proportionally much higher than the national average, Muller warned that the company would have to resort to quarantining employees screening for COVID-19 as there was a dearth of test kits across the country.
South Africa reported its largest single daily increase in COVID-19 infections recording 3,267 new cases on Thursday since the pandemic began. South Africa comprises nearly a quarter of all cases on the continent with 40,792 infections. With 848 deaths, it ranks second to Egypt for fatalities (1,126).