Unki platinum output up 13pc in Q3

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Unki Mine

Enacy Mapakame
Midlands-based platinum miner, Unki Mine’s output increased by 13 percent to 22 400 ounces during the third quarter to September 30, 2018.

Anglo American Platinum’s local unit also recorded an upturn in its palladium production, which increased by 15 percent to 19 700 ounces.

Management has attributed the jump in both platinum and palladium output to “an increase in tonnes milled, improvements in recovery and higher grade”.

Unki has so far maintained its growth trajectory in the year. Production hit a record 165 900 platinum group metals (PGMs) ounces for the full year in 2017 compared to 162 000 ounces in the prior year.

Its strong performance has been critical in boosting the group’s overall PGM production.

“Own mined PGM production increased 2 percent to 567 600 ounces due to strong performances from Unki and Amandelbult,” said Anglo in a quarterly report.

Anglo American Platinum, a subsidiary of the Anglo American Plc Group, is listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) in South Africa and has mining, smelting and refining operations in South Africa and also owns the Unki Platinum Mine.

However, the group indicated commissioning of the Unki smelter commenced in the same period and progressing well, which should improve the figures.

“Commissioning of the Unki Smelter is progressing well, and the first matte was tapped from the new smelter on September 21, 2018. Ramp-up of the facility to full production is continuing,” said the group.

The Unki smelter was developed at a total cost of $55 million.

Government has encouraged mining firms to establish refineries in the country and proposed a 15 percent tax on raw platinum exports in 2013.

This is also expected to promote value addition, job creation and more foreign currency from export of processed minerals as opposed to their raw format.

Meanwhile, the group’s platinum production increased by 4 percent to 649 000 ounces and palladium production increased by 1 percent to 410 800 ounces “due to improved operational performances across the majority of the portfolio, despite the placing of unprofitable production from Bokoni on care and maintenance in Q3 2017”, said Anglo American Platinum.

Refined platinum production decreased by 19 percent to 556 200 ounces and refined palladium production decreased by 29 percent to 321 500 ounces.

Platinum sales volumes (excluding refined metal purchased from third parties) decreased by 20 percent to 530 100 ounces and palladium sales volumes decreased by 30 percent to 324 300 ounces due to lower refined production.

The group has revised upwards its 2018 platinum production guidance to 2,45-2,50 million ounces (from between 2,40-2,45 million ounces) and palladium production guidance has been tightened to 1,55-1,60 million ounces (from 1,50-1,60 million ounces).

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