JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) - TSX- and JSE-listed platinum company Anooraq Resources said on Monday that the company had experienced an increase in production volumes and a decrease in unit costs at its Bokoni mine in South Africa, following a labour restructure.
Anooraq, which took over the Bokoni platinum mine from Anglo Platinum, said that the labour restructure focused primarily on improving the balance at its Bokoni operations to ensure that more employees were placed in revenue-generating activities, as opposed to mine support services.
This resulted in 11 new stoping teams being introduced to the operations, with the total stoping teams increasing from 70 teams to 81 teams during the company's second quarter. It is anticipated that a total of 100 stoping teams would be active at Bokoni by the end of the fourth quarter of the 2010 financial year.
The restructuring process affected some 840 people, representing one-quarter of Anooraq's own employee workforce.
Anooraq CEO Philip Kotze said that the company was already experiencing the benefits of its labour restructure programme, reporting positive results at its operations, in volume growth and unit cost reductions.
Kotze noted that production volumes were beginning to increase, with a steady upward trend in month-on-month production from April 2010 onwards.
"Subsequent to the labour restructure, vamping operations have also started at Bokoni and production from vamping activities should increase to about 6 000 t/m by the end of the year."
Anooraq anticipated an increase in its second-quarter production growth of not less than 15% when compared with its first-quarter production.
Meanwhile, production at the company's new Brakfontein Merensky shaft had started to increase and it was anticipated that production volumes from this shaft would double from its first-quarter production base to 30 000 t/m by the end of the fourth quarter of 2010.
Kotze pointed out that at a steady state production, the Brakfontein operation would produce at 120 000 t/m.
Further, as a result of improving production at the company's operations and continued stringent cost controls, the operational unit costs continued to decrease and Kotze said that Anooraq was confident that it would meet its first cost-cutting target of R905/t milled by the end of the month.
"Our next challenge will be to continue to demonstrate a positive trend line on volume increases and unit cost reductions as we move into the second half of the year."
Meanwhile, the Bokoni concentrator plant upgrade project was also implemented during the company's second quarter.
The project encountered some challenges, which resulted in greater-than-anticipated mill stops and lower recoveries than planned, but Kotze said that all "teething problems" had been addressed and that the concentrator had returned to meet design parameter targets with respect to recoveries and throughput.
"I am confident that the company has laid the correct foundation for its future expansion plans and that it has the right management team in place to achieve these objectives," concluded Kotze.