Aquarius Platinum Considering Closing Its Blue Ridge Mine For Seven Months
Aquarius Platinum Ltd., the fourth- largest producer of the metal, may shut the Blue Ridge mine it bought last year in South Africa for as long as seven months to improve safety and efficiency.
Production from the mine in the 2011 financial year may be “substantially lower than guided,” the Bermuda-based company said in a statement today. Aquarius had planned to increase output to 120,000 ounces of platinum group metals during the year, according to its website.
Blue Ridge, a joint venture with Imbani Platinum Ltd, requires “fundamental redevelopment,” Aquarius said. Senior personnel changes are also being made, it said.
A safety review was started at Blue Ridge after two fatalities in the quarter ended June 30, during which the mine lost 22 production days because of stoppages ordered by government inspectors who visited the mine eight times. Platinum group metal output from Blue Ridge fell by a third to 10,202 ounces during the three months.
Five workers were crushed to death at the company’s Marikana mine venture with Anglo Platinum Ltd. on July 6. The number four shaft was re-opened after 17 days and Aquarius committed to improving safety there. Both mines tap the world’s richest reserves of platinum, located in the north of South Africa. The country produces more than three quarters of the world’s supply of platinum.
Aquarius’s attributable output rose 7 percent to 110,474 platinum group metal ounces during the fourth quarter from the previous three months, bringing production for the year to 422,619 ounces, it said. Platinum group metals include platinum, rhodium and palladium amongst others.
Shares in Aquarius fell as much as 5.1 percent in London and were trading 4.8 percent lower at 271 pence at 8:23 a.m. local time, giving the company a market value of 1.26 billion pounds ($1.97 billion).
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