JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Platinum group metals (PGM) and chrome coproducer Tharisa on Tuesday informed the market of higher upcoming 2017 financial year earnings.
The company, headed by CEO Phoevos Pouroulis, foresees substantially higher earnings per share and headline earnings per share in US cents of 21c to 23c, compared with last year’s 5c and 6c in the 12 months ended September 30.
While the PGM basket price remained relatively flat year-on-year, the JSE-listed company said it realised average chrome concentrate price increases to $200/t on record chrome production.
As reported by Mining Weekly Online last month, reef tonnes mined from the company’s shallow opencast mine on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex totalled a record 5-million tonnes in the period, a 3.9% increase on the previous year, stemming from drill, blast and reefing improvement.
Reef tonnes milled rose 5.6% to 4.9-million tonnes in the 12 months to September 30, on increased availability and feed consistency of the run-of-mine ore stockpiled ahead of the plants.
The increase in reef milled together with the improvement in PGM recoveries resulted in an 8.3% increase in PGM production at 143 600 oz on a six-element basis.
Record chrome production of 1.3-million tonnes was achieved, 323 100 t of which was specialty grade concentrates.
The average PGM contained metal basket price in the 12 months to September 30 was $786/oz, $50/oz higher than the $736/oz achieved in the corresponding period of the company’s 2016 financial year, reflecting the increase in spot palladium prices, which surpassed the platinum price during the last quarter of the financial year.
Despite spot chrome price volatility, contracted metallurgical grade chrome concentrate prices increased 27% to average $200/t in the 12 months to September 30.
Tharisa sees the fundamentals of the global stainless steel market remaining sound with continued growth forecast in 2018, supporting demand for chrome units in the form of ferrochrome and chrome ores.
Chinese port stock levels were slightly above two-million tonnes as at September 29, representing two months of supply into the domestic Chinese ferrochrome and stainless steel industry.
Specialty chrome concentrates, which comprised 24.3% of Tharisa’s total chrome concentrate production in the period and which supply the chemical and foundry markets, continued to attract a premium of more than $30/t above the contracted metallurgical chrome concentrate prices.
Tharisa is guiding a production of 150 000 oz PGMs and 1.4-million tonnes of chrome concentrates in the 12 months to end September next year, of which 350 000 t will be specialty grade chrome concentrates.
International Chromium Development Association market research analyst Victor Constant told last week’s Chromium 2017 in Johannesburg that South Africa remained the world’s foremost overall exporter of charge chrome and high-carbon ferrochrome.