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Lonmin furnace closed for repairs

Lonmin smelter
London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 01 July 2008 – Lonmin – the world’s third-largest platinum producer – has closed down its Number One furnace for repairs, and is busy assessing the impact this will have on the company’s production and sales for 2008.

The company announced here that it had detected a small water leak in one of the copper waffle coolers on the side wall of its Number One furnace. This had been detected by the new condition- based monitoring technology installed at the furnace over the last 12 months.

“In line with our safety procedures, the furnace is being powered down so that the cooler can be fully inspected and the necessary repairs completed,” the company said. “We currently estimate that the Number One furnace will be powered down for around seven days, although this can only be confirmed once the cooler has been inspected. During this time we will continue to operate our Merensky furnace,” it added.

“As we repair the furnace,” the Lonmin announcement continued, “we will assess the impact of this incident on production and sales for the 2008 financial year.”

Reuters reports that Lonmin – with its main listing in London and with operations in South Africa – has twice cut its sales target for the financial year ending on 30 September due to operational problems, and because of a power crisis in South Africa.

In January, it cut its sales target to 860 000 oz of refined platinum from 900 000 oz, and in April reduced it further to 775 000 oz. The company – which suffered a 16% drop in output in the 2007 fiscal year to 793 500 oz – had been aiming to boost output to 1.2 million ounces by 2012 by building new mines, but said this was now in doubt.