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Implats performs well in difficult environment

A striking night
shot of the Implats
Marula mine
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 28 August 2008 – Impala Platinum Holdings Limited (Implats) – the second biggest platinum producer in the world – delivered a stellar financial performance in fiscal 2008, driven undoubtedly by the record prices achieved for its metals.

Stating this as he released the company’s results for the year ended 30 June 2008, CEO David Brown pointed out that the year in question had been a challenging one where Implats had grappled with an extremely difficult operating environment dominated by safety, the power crisis and a sharply decreased availability of skills.

He added that despite this, gross platinum production had been 2% higher at 1.9 million ounces during the past year. This represented a good performance in extremely trying circumstances.

The results showed that revenue had increased by 19% to R37.6 billion, and headline earnings were 57% higher at R20.65 per share. The gross margin had improved to 47% and the cost per platinum ounce (excluding share based payments) was up by 17% at R6 930.

Production at Impala Platinum declined by 1% to 1.044m ounces, with 20 000 ounces lost due to the power crisis and the Presidential safety audits, the results statement revealed. It said 16 and 20 shafts remained under development, while the sinking of 17 shaft had commenced. Processing expansions to increase capacity to 2.8 million ounces of platinum per annum were on track.

At Marula, production of platinum-in-concentrate had increased by 8% to 70 400 ounces, according to the statement, and. Mimosa had produced 76 600 ounces of platinum-in-concentrate, which was virtually unchanged from the previous year.

Two Rivers had increased production by 12% to 98 600 ounces of platinum-in-concentrate. Full production of 130 000 ounces of platinum remained on track for FY2010, the statement added. Total refined platinum production through Impala Refining Services declined by 11% to 862 700 ounces in FY2008 but – says the results statement – excluding the once-off toll treatment production increased by 6% from the previous year.

Finally, despite the problematic operating environment, Zimplats had produced 94 300 ounces of platinum-in-matte. Total production of 180 000 ounces of platinum remained  scheduled for 2011.

Turning to safety, although there was an improvement in the group’s safety performance as measured by the LTIFR – which improved by 16% to the best ever rate achieved by the group – regrettably 12 employees had lost their lives at work during the year.

The statement added that during the year the group had disposed of its holdings in both Aquarius Platinum Limited and Aquarius Platinum (South Africa) (Pty) Limited, in a restructuring exercise. Implats had also successfully secured its mining right conversions for Impala and Marula, and obtained the mining rights for the Leeuwkop project. Marula had enhanced its black economic empowerment credentials, which saw its three partners increasing their combined stake from 22.5% to 27% in that company.

Looking ahead, Implats CEO David Brown commented: “The year ahead remains challenging as global economic woes will continue to overhang the market. However, the medium- to long-term fundamentals for PGM’s remain sound and underpin the group’s growth objectives. The focus in the year ahead will be on safety, the retention of skills and increasing production,” he concluded.