Unki ramps up production

HARARE - The world’s largest platinum producer Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) says production at its Zimbabwean unit went up two percent to 18 900 ounces in the quarter to March 2017.

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

In a statement accompanying its quarterly production update, 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 571 900 ounces.

“Unki production was up two percent to 18 900 ounces, as continued efforts in efficient mining height control have reduced mining waste, leading to increased grade and higher production,” the group said.

Refined group platinum production increased by 121 percent to 576 900 ounces on prior comparable period.

The group’s full year production guidance remained unchanged at 2,35 percent to 2,40 million ounces.

“Total platinum production (metal in concentrate) was up one percent to 571 900 ounces with strong performances from Mogalakwena offsetting operational challenges at Amandelbult.

“The increase in production is despite the Twickenham project being placed on care and maintenance in the second half of 2016, reducing unprofitable platinum production by 1 100 ounces.

“With the sale of Rustenburg in November 2016, production from that operation is now treated as third party purchase of concentrate, resulting in own mine production decreasing by 26 percent. Mogalakwena production increased by three percent to 111 900 ounces with strong plant recoveries and increased throughput,” Amplats said.

The group’s Amandelbult Mine production was down 12 percent to 97 100 ounces primarily due to unusually heavy rainfall resulting in flooded opencast pits and affected feed chutes to the concentrator plants, as well as minor industrial action which impacted production for two days.

Last year, Amplats 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.

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