• First-quarter output rises 8.6% on recovery from strike
  • Platinum price has slumped 43% since reaching 2011 peak

Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. said it will increase production 17 percent in 2016 after the world’s second-biggest producer of the metal raised output by 8.6 percent in the first quarter as it recovered from a five-month strike at operations in South Africa.

Impala forecasts production of 1.45 million ounces to 1.5 million ounces for the year through June 2016, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement on Friday. Output rose to 304,000 ounces in the three months through September from a year earlier, it said. Group unit costs are seen at about 20,000 rand ($1,449) an ounce for the year to June 30, it said. That compares with 22,222 rand an ounce a year earlier.

The improvement was “primarily due to the impact of the ramp-up of operations at Impala Rustenburg following the five-month wage strike in the previous comparable quarter,” it said.

Impala, which owns mines in South Africa and Zimbabwe, is battling a 48 percent slump in the platinum price since it peaked in August 2011. It raised 4 billion rand ($289 million) in a share sale this year to compensate for weak profit margins while building new shafts.

The stock dropped as much as 4.4 percent to 36 rand, the weakest since October 2001. It traded 1.9 percent lower at 36.97 rand by 9:45 a.m., extending the drop this year to 51 percent. Platinum for immediate delivery climbed 0.6 percent to $997.47 an ounce.

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