Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. Reports Production Results for the First Quarter Ended March 31, 2015
May 14 15
Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. reported production results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2015. Gross refined platinum production for the quarter ended 31 March 2015 increased by 47% to 301,000 ounces of platinum, compared to 205,000 ounces platinum in the prior comparable period. The increase is largely as a result of the strike impact at Impala Rustenburg during last year's March quarter. Notwithstanding this increase, gross refined platinum production for the nine-month period ended 31 March 2015 decreased by 6% from 992,000 ounces platinum achieved in the previous comparable period, to 932,000 ounces platinum in the current financial year. This decrease is directly as a result of the wage strike impact, lower volumes from Zimplats as a result of the temporary closure of the Bimha Mine, safety and industrial action stoppages during the first half of the financial year at Marula and lower throughput at Impala Refining Services (IRS) due to the treatment of once-off material in the prior comparable period. This was all mitigated to some extent by the improved performance at Impala Rustenburg this quarter and further operational improvements at Mimosa. Tonnes milled at Impala Rustenburg improved from the strike-impacted quarter ended 31 March 2014 (273,000 tonnes) to 2.51 million tonnes during the quarter ended 31 March 2015, which is similar to the performance reported for the non-strike impacted quarter ended 31 March 2013 at this operation (2.36 million tonnes). Consequently, refined platinum production for the quarter improved to 143,000 ounces platinum for the period under review. Tonnes milled over the nine-month period increased by 6.5% to 6.52 million tonnes, compared to 6.12 million tonnes in the prior corresponding period. Production over this period was impacted by the operational re-start and ramp-up to full production following the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) wage strike and safety related stoppages, which amounted to approximately 400,000 tonnes year to date. Notwithstanding the increase in tonnes milled, refined platinum production for the financial year to date declined by 4% to 396,000 ounces platinum compared to the prior corresponding period. This is directly attributable to reduced smelter stock levels at the end of the strike-impacted prior comparable period, compared to the current nine month period under review. Available mineable face (demonstrating ore reserve flexibility) for conventional mining crews at Impala Rustenburg improved further during the reporting period, increasing from 17,800 meters in March 2012 to 22,103 meters at the end of March 2015 (compared to a longer term strategic target of 24,200 meters). This will not only continue to improve ore reserve flexibility for each conventional panel team in the short term, but also allow more panel teams to be deployed over time to deliver the strategic target of 850,000 platinum ounces per annum at much higher mining efficiency and at lower unit cost. The operation continued to experience power interruptions during the quarter under review, but was able to mitigate these impacts through power curtailment and power shifting to off-peak periods at the smelting facility. Production guidance for the full financial year is maintained at 575,000 platinum ounces. However, excessive safety stoppages following the recent two tragic fatalities at Impala Rustenburg and escalating power constraints may impact planned production performance in the final quarter of the current financial year. Tonnes milled at Marula decreased by 6.5% to 373,000 tonnes for the quarter ended March 2015 compared to 399,000 tonnes reported in the prior corresponding period. Platinum in concentrate production for the quarter decreased in line with the lower mill throughput to 16,000 ounces platinum. Tonnes milled over the nine month period ended 31 March 2015 decreased by 9.5% to 1.20 million tonnes, compared to 1.33 million tonnes in the prior corresponding period. Production over this period was severely impacted by safety and industrial action stoppages in the first six months of the current financial year and power supply interruptions in the quarter ended 31 March 2015. This impacted the processing plant and resulted in a build-up of some mined ore at the end of the reporting period. In line with this decrease in tonnes milled, platinum in concentrate production for the financial year to date declined by 10% to 53,000 ounces platinum. Marula operates without a large on-site smelting complex and therefore has limited ability to shift power demand during periods of constrained supply. Consequently, the operation is required to stop the milling plant during periods of interrupted power supply and to stockpile ore which can then be treated at a later stage. Considering the mining performance (tonnes milled and stockpiled) during the quarter ended 31 March 2015, it is apparent that the strategic interventions to regain lost momentum at this operation are showing pleasing progress. Tonnes milled at Zimplats during the quarter ended 31 March 2015 decreased by 11% to 1.26 million tonnes compared to 1.42 million tonnes reported in the prior corresponding period. Platinum production in matte for the quarter consequently decreased in line with lower mill throughput to 52,000 ounces platinum for the period under review. Mill throughput over the nine-month period ended 31 March 2015 decreased by 15% to 3.74 million tonnes, compared to 4.40 million tonnes in the corresponding prior period. The lower throughput was directly attributable to the safety closure of the Bimha Mine in August 2014, mitigated to a large degree by the successful re-deployment of affected mining crews to other mining areas as well as the continued ramp-up of the Phase 2 expansion project. As a result, platinum in matte for the nine months ended 31 March 2015 was only 11% lower at 155,000 ounces, compared to 174,000 ounces platinum in the prior comparable period. The re-development of Bimha Mine and the initiation of open-pit mining to mitigate the production impact is progressing well, with the first open-pit material expected to be processed in April 2015. The ramp-up of the Phase 2 expansion project remains on schedule for completion in fiscal year 2015 with the Mupfuti Mine expected to deliver steady-state capacity of 90,000 ounces of platinum in the next financial year. All of the above interventions are expected to limit the production impact of closing Bimha Mine to less than 40,000 platinum ounces for fiscal year 2015 and for full processing capacity (6.0 million tonnes per annum) to be restored in fiscal year 2016. Zimplats continues to engage with the Government of Zimbabwe with regards to the indigenisation implementation plan and the securing of a more conducive regulatory and fiscal framework for the mining industry in Zimbabwe.
African Rainbow Minerals Eyes Marula Platinum
Mar 17 15
African Rainbow Minerals Limited (JSE:ARI) is looking at acquiring Marula platinum mine (Marula Platinum (Pty), Ltd.) put up for sale by Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (JSE:IMP), Chief Executive Officer Mike Schmidt said. He added African Rainbow Minerals had spoken to various parties about buying platinum assets.