JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Despite the uncertain outlook for global economic growth, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) believes that the global platinum market is likely to be balanced in 2013 as a result of reduced production and possible supply disruptions.
But should South African platinum production return to pre-strike levels, the market would be oversupplied, the mining major said in its quarterly review on Friday.
The company expected to refine and sell between 2.2-million ounces and 2.3-million ounces of platinum in 2013, subject to a portfolio review implementation, at a cash unit cost target of around R16 500 an equivalent refined platinum ounce.
This unit cost target was based on an expected production level of 2.3-million ounces of platinum.
This came as Amplats and the Department of Mineral Resources continued their engagement through a bilateral consultation process on the implementation of the company’s portfolio review proposals.
The parties had extended the consultation process for a further 30 days until April 30 to allow sufficient time for the conclusion of the process and expected to make an announcement on the outcome of the consultation process thereafter.
In its review of the quarter ended March 31, the group reported that equivalent refined platinum production for the first quarter of 2013 had decreased by 2% year-on-year to 583 000 oz, from 593 000 oz during the first quarter of 2012, which was largely owing to intermittent illegal industrial actions at its underground mines in South Africa and lower production at the Unki mine.
Equivalent refined platinum production from its own operations dropped by 6% year-on-year to 390 000 oz, as a result of erratic illegal industrial action at the Rustenburg, Union and Amandelbult mining operations.
“Amplats lost around 16 000 oz of equivalent refined platinum production during the first quarter of 2013 as result of this illegal industrial action,” the company said.
Equivalent refined platinum production at the Rustenburg mines remained flat, while output from the Amandelbult and Union mines decreased by 15 000 oz, or 16%, and 8 000 oz, or 14%, year-on-year respectively.
The Unki mine’s production decreased by 4 000 oz, or 22%, owing to lower head grade and a decline in tons milled as a result of a depletion of preproduction stockpiles.
But this was partly offset by a 4 000 oz increase in production at the Western Limb tailings retreatment operation, largely driven by improved head grades and recoveries.
Mogalakwena mine output amounted to 87 000 oz of equivalent refined platinum, up 1 000 oz or 1%, as a result of higher throughput at the concentrators.
Equivalent refined platinum production in the first quarter of 2012 included 16 000 oz from Marikana, which was placed on care and maintenance in June.
“On a comparative basis, and excluding Marikana, operating mines improved production by 21 000 oz, or 14%, year-on-year,” said Amplats.
Amplats incurred R1.06-billion of capital expenditure (capex) during the quarter, and remained on track to incur capex of between R6-billion and R7-billion for the year.