Tharisa extends life of open pit mine seven years to 2041, de-risks underground project

Phoevos Pouroulis, CEO, Tharisa

THARISA has extended the life of its open pit at the Tharisa mine in South Africa’s North West province by seven years to 2041.

The company said in a statement today that extending the life of the open pit would also de-risk the development of the operation for underground mining.

“This development further cements the reputation of the Tharisa Mine as a world-class, long-life asset that underpins our business and will continue to provide a sustainable, low-cost platform for over 50 years,” said Phoevos Pouroulis, CEO of Tharisa.

Shares in the company were 7.85% higher at midday today in Johannesburg taking the company’s value 86% higher on a 12-month basis. Tharisa is capitalised at R7.97bn.

Tharisa said the open pit tonnage had increased 30% to 94.2 million tons taking total open pit and underground mineral reserves increased to 113.1 million tons. This was at a platinum group metal grade of 1,09 grams per ton of three platinum group elements and gold, and chrome grades of 18.6%.

Tharisa has emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic a stronger company, a crisis that had been preceded in 2019 by a pit redesign which hit volumes. The improvement in the PGM basket price has played a major role in its recovery.

Coupled with a 10% stronger average chrome price, Tharisa ended the year to September 30 with cash of $83.4m and net cash of $47.9m, and a number of growth projects in the pipeline. These included the commissioning of the firm’s $55m Vulcan processing facility which analysts think would double cash flow in the 2022 financial year.

Tharisa has guided to PGM production of between 165,000 to 175,000 oz for its 2022 financial year which would compare to 157,800 oz this year – itself an 11% year on year improvement.

In addition to the Vulcan commissioning, Tharisa had the Karo Platinum and Salene Chrome projects in Zimbabwe as development options.

Tharisa CEO Phoevos Pouroulis has previously said shareholders could expect strong dividend returns although the group may bring finance of capital growth projects into its reckoning.