Implats’ ramp-up beats expectations


Implats’ ramp-up beats expectations

Published Date: 2020-06-25 | Source: Stephen Gunnion | Author: Stephen Gunnion

Implats’ ramp-up beats expectations

The platinum producer has lifted force majeure on its contractual deliveries and says most customers have elected to receive their metal.

Impala Platinum (Implats) says demand for its metal has remained strong despite Covid-19 and global lockdown conditions. It has used the opportunity to reduce its excess inventory, taking advantage of robust rand prices for platinum group metals (PGMs).

In an update ahead of the end of its financial year, the platinum producer said logistics constraints had also eased and it had introduced different work cycles and staggered shifts at its mines as a precaution against the spread of the virus among its employees. While restrictions on staffing levels were lifted at the beginning of the month, it had taken a phased approach to intra-provincial travel by employees, particularly those returning from 'hot spots'. It had also limited attendance levels at its mines in Limpopo and the North West. About 5% of its workers remained in their home countries due to the closure of SA's national borders.

Despite the staffing limitations, Implats said the ramp-up of production had surpassed initial expectations, with its SA mines returning to about 85% of capacity by the middle of the month. As smelters and refineries were identified as essential services during the lockdown it was able to fully refine excess inventory of PGMs. As a result, refined and sales volumes would exceed concentrate production for the year to end-June. It also brought forward its annual acid plant maintenance scheduled for July, which would support processing and mining capacity in the first quarter of its next financial year, with a small impact on its current processing inventory.

In Zimbabwe, its Zimplats and joint venture Mimosa mines had operated uninterrupted and well within its pre-Covid-19 guidance for the year, while mining operations in Canada were interrupted following an outbreak of the virus. It expected its Lac des Iles mine to return to full production after July.

Following the lifting of its force majeure declaration on contractual deliveries this week, it said most of its customers had elected to receive their metal rather than exercise their right to cancel deliveries.

Implats has revised its guidance for refined production for the year to between 2.77 million to 2.795 million 6E ounces from 2.6 million to 2.9 million ounces previously.

It expects to release its results on 3 September.

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