PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Platinum Australia went into a trading halt on Monday on news that it was reviewing its Smokey Hills operation, in South Africa, in light of deteriorating operating conditions.
In a statement to the ASX, Platinum Australia said that difficult operating conditions have prevented the Smokey Hills mine from reaching its forecasted production levels.
June production was also affected by a four-day safety shutdown, with tons milled now only expected to reach some 29 000 t in June, compared with a forecast of 47 980 t.
Platinum Australia said that in light of the low platinum prices and the current operating conditions at the mine, the company would undertake an “urgent review” of the operations to determine a future strategy and the viability of the mine, as commodity prices were not expected to improve in the medium term.
The review would be completed within a week.
The news of the Smokey Hills review comes hot on the heels of other platinum companies also curtailing output and cutting back on projects.
Last week, ASX- and JSE-listed Aquarius Platinum placed its second mine on care and maintenance, while South African miner Royal Bafokeng Platinum deferred R462-million in capital expenditure to preserve cash. Eastern Platinum, from Canada, recently suspended funding for a project and concentrator plant.
Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu established a task team to save jobs in the platinum industry, as government, business and organised labour attempt to join forces to aid the country’s beleaguered platinum industry.
At the start of this year, Platinum Australia switched from a contractor to an owner-operator model at the Smokey Hills mine, in the hopes of achieving its production targets while saving on operating costs.
The operation was subject to a number of strikes last year, with an employee attacked at killed by a mob during May.