Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 23 July 2010 – Lonmin Plc “’ the world’s third- largest platinum producer “’ has revealed that its third-quarter output of the metal tumbled 47% because of a leak at its main furnace.
The London-based company said in a statement issued here that costs might be US$17.5 million (R131 million) more than planned as Lonmin paid rivals to take over some smelting and help it meet its sales goal,. The company aimed to sell 700 000 ounces of refined platinum in the financial year through September.
Lonmin says it is planning a third reconstruction of its No. 1 furnace in as many years in November and December to try to halt leaks. The latest incident occurred on 30 March and took more than two months to repair. The company crushes mined rock before converting it into a liquid that’s smelted in the furnace to produce matte, which is then refined into metal.
“The furnace has been performing steadily for over one month now,” Lonmin said. The company said in May it also planned to build a smaller smelter at a cost of US$40 million (R300 million) to provide backup and expand capacity by 30% by late 2012.
CEO Ian Farmer was appointed in 2008 to fix a series of problems at Lonmin ranging from safety stoppages to labour strikes. Farmer took over in September as platinum tumbled from a record at the end of a six-year commodities boom, prompting him to idle operations and cut jobs by about a fifth.
Refined platinum production fell to 91 952 ounces in the three months through June from a year earlier, the company said. Output in the nine months to that date slid 22% from a year earlier to 383 873 ounces.