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Impala Platinum Drops Plan to Boost Marula Mine Production

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May 27 (Bloomberg) -- Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., the world’s second-largest producer of the metal, scrapped a plan to boost output at its Marula Platinum Ltd. unit by 35 percent in two years after the mine missed targets.

“Initial indications are that Marula should remain a 70,000 platinum ounces-per-annum producer for the next two years as opposed to growing to 95,000 ounces of refined platinum by 2013,” Johannesburg-based Impala, which owns 73 percent of Marula, said in a statement today. Jobs will be cut at Marula because the mine is staffed for higher levels of production, the company said, without giving numbers.

Impala and rivals including Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the world’s biggest producer, are trying to boost output to benefit from metal prices that climbed 58 percent over the past two years to $1,791.75 an ounce as of 4:39 p.m. in London.

Marula has underperformed because of “logistical constraints” caused by a conversion to conventional mining from mechanized techniques at its Clapham shaft, Impala said.

Impala will probably produce 1.82 million ounces of the metal in the year ending June 30, compared with a target of 1.85 million ounces, the company said May 17. Impala is targeting 2.1 million ounces by 2014, it said last year.

The production adjustment is “not significant,” for the company, spokesman Bob Gilmour said by phone from Johannesburg today. It’s too early to say how many jobs will be lost, he said.

The stock rose 3.29 rand, or 1.8 percent, to 186.50 rand at the 5 p.m. close in Johannesburg, giving Impala a value of 118 billion rand ($17 billion).

To contact the reporter on this story: Carli Lourens in Johannesburg at clourens@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amanda Jordan at ajordan11@bloomberg.net.

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