The primary
Implats operation,
Impala Platinum
at Rustenburg
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 16 November 2009 – Impala Platinum Holdings Limited “’ the world’s second-largest producer of the metal “’ says its total refined output rose 6% in the first quarter of its current financial year, despite lower production at its main mine.

Revealing this in a statement issued here, the company said higher production from its Zimbabwean operations, increased deliveries to its refinery, and clearing of stocks during a two-week strike, had led to the increase in refined platinum production from 390000 ounces a year ago to 413 000 ounces now.

Implats confirmed that platinum output from its main Rustenburg mine had dropped to 180 000 ounces in the three months to the end of September, from 243 000 ounces in the corresponding quarter of last year. It forecast that output from Rustenburg would fall by 100 000 ounces this financial year to 850 000 ounces, due to closures over safety and a two-week strike.

Barend Ritter, a Cape Town-based platinum analyst at Sanlam Investment Management, said the Impala mine (Rustenburg) was struggling, affecting the company’s overall performance.

"If they continue at this rate (180,000 ounces a quarter) they won’t reach their target of 850,000 ounces," Ritter said.

"They need to make some improvement quarter-on-quarter for them to reach their guidance. I think without any further safety issues or strikes they may just get to their target of 850,000 ounces, but this would still be lower than the mine’s normal production of around 1 million ounces."

The company went on to say that it would reach an annual output of 1 million ounces within the next five years. The entire Implats group produced a total of 1.7 million ounces of platinum in its 2009 financial year, but did not give a forecast for total production in the current year.

Reuters reports that South Africa produces four fifths of the world’s platinum, and that Implats alone supplies 25% of the precious metal, mainly from its South African operations and mines in Zimbabwe.

The company said lower production volumes would adversely impact unit costs during the first half of the current year.