JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The loss of six lives is completely overshadowing the encouraging progress being made to build a stronger and more robust Impala Platinum (Implats).
Implats CEO Terence Goodlace lamented in the company's latest quarterly report for the three months to March 31 that the deaths of four employees in an underground fire at Shaft 14 at Impala Rustenburg and deaths of two employees at the Mimosa platinum mine in Zimbabwe had left a pall of grief over the company.
“We continue to mourn,” Goodlace said, adding that investigations were ongoing into the cause of the fire, which incurred R375-million damage to assets.
The cost of the still-to-be-determined business interruption would also be covered by the company’s insurance programme.
Following the tragic fire, all operations at Shaft 14 were suspended for 23 days and the lower trackless and conventional mining sections were still being kept closed, the company said.
Mining crews had been redeployed to other mining areas or tasked with clean-up and repair, which was expected to be fully completed by March 2017.
Despite the severe impact, Impala Rustenburg’s refined platinum production for the quarter stayed at 142 000 oz, made possible by material built up during the furnace rebuild.
GROSS REFINED PLATINUM
Seventeen per cent more platinum – 353 000 oz – was refined in the quarter on increased Zimplats output, good operational performances at Marula, Two Rivers and Mimosa, 32.9% higher volumes from Impala Refining Services and the release of stockpiled material.
Gross refined platinum production over nine months was also 12% higher at 1.05-million ounces. Implats is forecasting full-year production of 1.42-million ounces of refined platinum at a unit cost of R22 500/oz.
Tonnes milled over the nine-month period to March 31 rose 22% to 7.95-million tonnes, compared with 6.52-million tonnes in the prior corresponding period, which was impacted by the operational restart following the wage strike.
Consequently, refined platinum production for the nine months rose 18%.
On 30%-higher milling to 1.65-million tonnes at Zimplats, platinum production in matte rose to 89 000 oz in the quarter and 42% to 220 000 oz over nine months.
On the political front, the company said in a release to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online that Zimplats was continuing to engage with the Zimbabwe government on the implementation of indigenisation and the securing of a more conducive regulatory and fiscal framework for the mining industry in Zimbabwe.
Milling at Marula platinum mine rose 4.5% to 390 000 t, lifting platinum concentrate production to 17 000 oz for the quarter, and milling at Mimosa increased 8.7% to 676 000 t, lifting platinum concentrate to 30 000 oz in the same period.