London, England — MININGREVIEW.COM — 15 June 2009 – Lonmin Plc – the world’s third- biggest platinum producer – has announced that the No. 1 furnace at its processing unit in South Africa has been shut down, following a matte run-out over the weekend.
Revealing this in a statement here, Lonmin – which has a history of problems with smelters and missed production targets – said the damage would take about 30 days to repair, but was unable to clarify the impact on sales at this stage.
Further details about the impact would only be possible once a full inspection was made after the furnace had cooled down, the statement added. “Guidance regarding the impact of this incident on production and sales for the 2009 financial year will be given at that time,” it said.
“In order to mitigate the impact on production of this shut down and repair, our three Pyromet furnaces have already been started up and are expected to tap matte within seven days,” the statement continued. The No. 1 furnace has a capacity to process about 550 tonnes of matte per day, and the three Pyromet furnaces together will be able to produce about half that, a spokesman said.
Bloomberg News reports that Ian Farmer took over as CEO last September after Lonmin had been affected by plant and equipment breakdowns, labour strikes and safety stoppages. Last year’s output had also been affected by an earlier accident at the No. 1 furnace.
Farmer suspended some operations in South Africa, halted an expansion programme and announced about 7 000 job cuts after platinum prices had plunged last year. In April, Lonmin confirmed a sales target of 700 000 ounces for this year.