Unki production up 18pc

HARARE - The  world’s largest platinum producer Anglo-American Platinum (Amplats) says production at its Zimbabwean unit went up 16 percent to 18 200 ounces in the quarter to September on the back of improved production at the mine.

Amplats owns and operates Unki Platinum Mine (Unki) near Shurugwi.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed company said Unki’s contribution had resulted in a one percent increase in the group’s total platinum production to 619 100 ounces.

“The increased production was due to improved underground mining efficiencies which resulted in a five percent increase in tonnes milled, and a nine percent increase in grade due to improved mining height control,” Amplats said in a market update yesterday.

“Total platinum production was up one percent to 619 100 ounces as a result of improved performances during the quarter at Mogalakwena, Amandelbult, Unki, and at JV’s Modikwa, Kroondal and BRPM,” the company added.

Joint venture production (mined and purchased) was down one percent  to 207 100 ounces driven primarily by the group’s Bokoni mine on the back of closure of two shafts last year, offset by strong performance at Modikwa, Kroondal and BRPM.

“On a normalised basis, excluding production from the closure of the two vertical shafts, production at Bokoni increased 12 percent year-on-year,” the miner said, adding production from its Rustenburg operations including the Western Limb Tailings Retreatment (WLTR) was down three percent to 120 900 ounces.

Production during the period under review was also impacted by two fatal incidents, and the subsequent safety stoppages.

“This was offset by a strong performance from the WLTR which increased 38 percent to 13 800 ounces in part due to new production from the East tailings dams,” Amplats said.

Refined platinum production increased 14 percent to 694 600 ounces following recovery at the group’s Precious Metals Refinery in processing additional matte material that was built-up ahead of the refinery, after a safety stoppage in the first quarter.

Sales volumes for the quarter of 588 000 ounces were less than refined production of 694 600 ounces, as leases of 49 000 ounces were repaid and the balance used to build up refined inventory.

This comes as Amplats last year announced it was postponing all major project investment decisions at Unki until at least 2017.

Consequently, the mine then shelved a planned mine expansion project due to depressed prices of the base metal on the international market.

The Shurugwi-based mining concern had announced it was set to build a smelter at the mine, but instead also asked suppliers during the same period to cut prices by between five to 15 percent in line with depressed platinum prices.

Amplats is a global and diversified mining business with mining operations, growth projects and exploration and marketing activities extend across southern Africa, South America, Australia, North America, Asia and Europe.

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