The results in the Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) report includes a strong performance from Mogalakwena offsetting operational challenges at Amandelbult.
The increase in production is despite the Twickenham project being placed on care and maintenance in the second half of 2016, reducing unprofitable platinum production by 1 100 oz.
With the sale of Rustenburg in November 2016, production from that operation is now treated as third party purchase of concentrate, resulting in own mine production decreasing by 26%
Mogalakwena production increased by 3% to 111 900 oz with strong plant recoveries and increased throughput.
Amandelbult production decreased by 12% to 97 100 oz primarily due to unusually heavy rainfall resulting in flooded opencast pits and affected feed chutes to the concentrator plants, as well as minor industrial action which impacted production for two days.
Unki production was up 2% to 18 900 oz, as continued efforts in efficient mining height control have reduced mining waste, leading to increased grade and higher production.
Union increased production by 10% to 37 700 oz due to improved crew efficiency and mining ground closer to the access shafts in line with the optimised mine plan.
The sale of Union to Siyanda Resources was announced on 15 February 2017 and is expected to complete during the year.
Amplats also states joint venture production (mined and purchased) was down marginally to 182 700 oz. Lower production was primarily due to a two day illegal strike and lower grade impacting Kroondal, lower grade in the current mining area at Mototolo, and a tragic fatality and subsequent Section 54 safety stoppage which impacted production at Bokoni.
This was partially offset by increased production at BRPM’s Styldrift project and higher production at Modikwa following extensive focus on improving plant recoveries.
Third party purchase of concentrate increased by 119 900 oz largely due to the inclusion of material from Rustenburg including the Western Limb Tailings Retreatment (117 600 oz), since the transfer of these operations to Sibanye on 1 November 2016.
Other third party purchases, largely from Maseve increased to 3 200 oz from 1 200 oz as the mine ramps up.
Refined platinum production increased by 316 100 oz to 576 900 oz, with Q1, 2016 refined production having been materially impacted by a Section 54 safety stoppage at the Precious Metal Refinery.
Following the Waterval smelter run-out in Q3, 2016, the number 1 furnace at Waterval smelter was successfully rebuilt in Q4, 2016 and is running at steady-state.
The number 2 furnace underwent planned maintenance and has now been successfully rebuilt. It is ramping-up to full capacity, which is expected in Q2, 2017. The backlog in processing pipeline material of 65 000 platinum oz following the run-out should be made up during 2017.
Amplats sales volumes for the quarter of 518 800 oz were up 26% due to the increase in refined platinum production, however was less than refined production of 576 900 oz, due to rebuilding refined inventory, which had been drawn down in 2016 to supplement sales during the PMR stoppage.
Full year production guidance remains unchanged at 2.35 – 2.40 Moz.
Feature image credit: Amplats