Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 21 April 2009 – Palabora Mining Company Limited – a member of the Rio Tinto Group and South Africa’s only producer of refined copper – says its copper concentrate production in the first quarter of 2009 improved slightly by 1.5% sequentially, but was 8.4% lower year on year.
Releasing its operations overview for the period January to March 2009, the company said the drop was attributable to the halt in Palabora’s marginal and oxide ore processing.
Production from the underground mine averaged 32 953 tonnes for the quarter, consistent with the previous three months, but 11% higher than the corresponding period in 2008
In total, just under 3 million tonnes of ore had been hoisted during the quarter with a copper grade of 0.68%, marginally better than the previous quarter’s grade. Ore treated was 11% lower sequentially and 12% lower year on year.
Copper in concentrate was 4% higher sequentially due to improved metal recovery rates and 7% lower year on year, in line with the relative decrease in production and increase in grade.
The new concentrate smelted improved by 4% sequentially and 9.6% year on year due to more focus being placed on the smelting efficiencies.
The refined new copper produced was 10% higher sequentially and 15% higher year on year, in line with smelter output (new copper anodes produced).
The overview went on to reveal that nickel plant production was steadily increasing to achieve planned levels; magnetite production for the quarter was 64.6% higher sequentially and 73% higher year on year in line with the magnetite reclaim ramp-up schedule; and vermiculite production was 6% higher sequentially and 4% higher year on year. Indications were that this production rate would be maintained for the remainder of the year.