PGM market shows strong underlying fundamentals says Implats CEO
Brendan Ryan -
Oct 29, 2021
PRODUCTION of platinum group metals (PGM) fell at Impala Platinum’s (Implats’) operations during the quarter to end-September, but sales were maintained and Implats’ CEO Nico Muller believes the PGM market remains in good shape.
“PGM markets are experiencing heightened volatility due to global macroeconomic factors and supply-chain constraints impacting automotive production,” said Muller. “However, at Implats, we continue to benefit from robust absolute pricing for our products.
“The sustained demand from our customer base is indicative of the strong underlying fundamentals for PGMs.”
Total PGM production for the quarter dropped 6% to 809,000 ounces (2020 September quarter: 859,000 oz) which when broken down shows a 5% decline in managed volumes to 592,000 oz; a 3% drop in joint venture production to 138,000 oz and a 16% fall in third party receipts to 80,000 oz.
Gross PGM refined and saleable production volumes dropped 15% to 741,000 oz because of scheduled plant maintenance but PGM sales levels remained stable at 707,000 oz.
Muller commented that “after a slow start, operating momentum improved during the quarter as we completed our annual scheduled processing maintenance, the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic receded in South Africa and global logistical constraints started to ease”.
He said Implats had managed “several headwinds” at the start of the 2022 financial year which included unprotected industrial action and intermittent power provision at Impala Rustenburg and a shortage of critical skills at Impala Canada.
Muller said the skills shortage and logistical constraints in Canada were “regional in nature, impacting the broader North American mining industry and are not unique to the Ontario region in which Impala Canada’s operations are located.
“At Lac Des Isles it has directly impacted the operation’s maintenance programme resulting in poor underground equipment availability and absolute volumes produced.”
At the group’s flagship Rustenburg division milled production dropped 12% to 2.59 million tons (3Mt) but PGM production only fell 9% to 315,000 oz (346,000 oz) because of higher grades and better yields.
Muller said production at Rustenburg was hit by unprotected industrial action amongst the contractor workforce which was compounded by unstable power supply; increased safety stoppages; cable theft and community disruptions.
Implats this week announced a proposal to take over Royal Bafokeng Platinum whose operations adjoin those of Implats Rustenburg division in what would be a major consolidation of the platinum sector.
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