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Jubilee achieves ‘robust’ second-quarter production performance

An image depicting Jubilee CEO Leon Coetzer.

Jubilee CEO Leon Coetzer

23rd January 2024

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer

     

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Metals processing company Jubilee has delivered a robust second-quarter operational performance and remains on track to meet its guidance for the full 2024 financial year.

Chrome concentrate production for the three months ended December 31 increased by 13.2%, setting a new quarterly production record of 381 114 t. This compares with the 336 683 t of chrome concentrate produced in the first quarter of the financial year.

Jubilee attributed the increase in production to the Thutse project, in South Africa, having reached its full production target in the second quarter.

Further, the company’s Inyoni operation, in South Africa, produced 10 131 oz of platinum group metals (PGMs) in what is traditionally a slower quarter. This compares with the 10 113 oz produced in the prior comparable quarter.

Copper cathode and copper-in-concentrate production at Inyoni reached 749 t, against the prior comparable quarter’s 934 t. This was achieved despite the operational disruptions at Roan, in Zambia, as part of the ongoing upgrade project, which is set to significantly increase copper production during the six months to June 30.

Meanwhile, the lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) for Jubilee’s Zambian operations improved to 0.61, against the prior comparable quarter’s 2.36, while the LTIFR for the South African operations was 2.17 against the prior comparable quarter’s 1.44.

"In the face of a dynamic and challenging global market, Jubilee has continued to demonstrate resilience and adaptability, delivering a strong operational performance in the second quarter of the 2024 fiscal year. Our commitment to operational excellence and strategic growth is evident in our robust production figures and sustained progress across key projects.

“We are particularly proud of the significant increase in chrome concentrate production, setting a record for Jubilee. The targeted expansion of our Thutse project brings us closer to reaching our strategic goal of 2.1-million tonnes of chrome concentrate [a year].

“Our chrome operations are capable of funding the expansion capital from its cash generation, and the commencement of the Thutse expansion is subject to internal capital and funding approval processes,” Jubilee CEO Leon Coetzer reported on January 23.

Jubilee has elected to expand the Thutse project with the addition of a further 50 000 t a month feed processing module, following the successful completion of the first chrome module during August 2023.

The potential expansion will move the company nearer to its objective of producing 2.1-million tonnes of chrome concentrate a year.

The Roan copper concentrator was brought back into operation during December to reduce the impact of the front-end upgrade project startup being postponed owing to the delay in the delivery of critical electrical components, caused by the ongoing logistics constraints at ports across South Africa.

Roan will continue to operate at about 50% of capacity while an alternative solution is being pursued to source the electrical components, which includes the option to locally manufacture the components. A nine-week delay is expected to the upgrade of the Roan project.

Meanwhile, the development of Project M, or the Monyoko Copper Resource, near Jubilee’s Sable Refinery, in South Africa, is progressing to schedule, with the first test material from this exciting copper resource expected to be delivered to the Sable refinery during the fourth quarter of the 2024 financial year.

The material forms part of the development of detailed surface copper resource definition, which offers the potential of a long-term quality copper supply to Sable Refinery from early in the 2025 calendar year.

The accelerated development of the newly secured large copper waste rock asset is being progressed along various work streams.

This includes the development of a more detailed resource definition, undertaking bulk processing trials of the source material by Jubilee Technical Services (JTS) to confirm detail designs of the processing units, and the securing of manufacturing capacity for plant and equipment.

The expansion of the sulphide copper recovery circuit at the Sable Refinery is progressing to schedule with installation expected to commence during the third quarter of the 2024 calendar year, which aligns with the expected near-term increase in copper concentrate delivery from the various copper expansion projects.

“In Zambia, the team were able to grow our copper output despite the operational interruptions caused by the Roan front-end upgrade and associated import delays. The team is working tirelessly to overcome the delay and will continue to operate Roan at a reduced capacity during this time.

“I am excited by the early indications from both our Project M and newly secured large waste rock asset. Both projects offer significant growth opportunities anchored by a large copper resource. We will keep shareholders updated on the development of both projects,” Coetzer expresses.

PROJECT UPDATES

Jubilee is making progress in negotiations to establish additional life-of-mine (LoM) partnerships. Concurrently, the company is focusing on expanding its chrome operations through the implementation of one additional processing module.

This initiative is part of the company’s strategic plan to achieve a future chrome concentrate production milestone in excess of two-million tonnes a year.

This expansion will cost about $6-million and will be funded through cash generated by the chrome operations.

The success of the Thutse project has motivated the further expansion of the Thutse operations by implementing a further 50 000 t a month feed processing unit.

This expansion takes Jubilee a step closer towards achieving a targeted 2.1-million tonnes a year of chrome concentrate.

It is expected that the additional chrome module will be implemented during the third quarter of the 2024 calendar year and is capable of producing an additional 300 000 t/y of chrome concentrate.

Further, Jubilee secured one of the largest copper waste rock assets on surface in Zambia and has formed a strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi-based International Resources Holding RSC Limited (IRH).

Jubilee executed a binding funding term sheet with IRH to form a dedicated special purpose vehicle (SPV) through which both the acquisition of the copper waste rock asset and the implementation of the processing solution will be funded.

According to the terms of the funding term sheet, IRH and Jubilee will aim to complete the implementation of the SPV and associated appointments by January 31.

IRH will provide the necessary capital through equity and loans, subject only to IRH completing its due diligence. Jubilee will design, implement and operate the Waste Rock Project, which is set to start in the first quarter of the 2024 calendar year.

With a total projected investment of about $50-million, this venture highlights Jubilee's commitment to delivering cost-effective and environmentally sustainable mining solutions.

The accelerated development of the Waste Rock Project is being progressed along various work streams which include the development of a more detailed resource definition, processing trials undertaken by JTS to confirm the designs of processing units and securing manufacturing capacity for plant and equipment.

Meanwhile, the upgrade of Roan that is currently under way includes the implementation of a 50 000 t a month modular unit, which allows Roan to simultaneously process multiple feed sources.

JTS is completing a review of various additional feed sources near Roan which is in addition to the previously announced six-year offtake agreement of unprocessed copper run-of-mine material discarded as mined waste.

The upgraded Roan is perfectly positioned to uniquely capitalise on the opportunities on offer. Project Roan, through these key upgrades, is poised for a significant operational rebound.

The Roan front-end upgrade has suffered delays in completion, owing to delayed delivery of an imported critical electrical component caused by logistical challenges at South African ports. JTS has been able to bring unaffected sections of Roan back into operation to reduce the impact of the delays.

JTS has approached local manufacturers in South Africa to produce the component as an emergency measure, which is expected to be completed within eight weeks. Until completion, Roan will continue to operate by processing selectively suitable material.

During this period, overall production rates are capable of being maintained in excess of 600 copper units a month before offering the opportunity to increase to beyond 1 000 t a month once Roan returns to full production.

JTS has completed the design work for the expansion of the sulphide copper recovery circuit at the Sable Refinery, in anticipation of the expected near-term increase in copper concentrate delivery from the various copper expansion projects. Construction is expected to commence during the third quarter of the 2024 calendar year.

The project forms part of Jubilee’s strategy to expand the Sable Refinery’s capacity to produce up to 16 000 copper units a year.

Further, Jubilee secured its first LoM copper ore offtake agreement from an existing mining company. Project M seeks to emulate the success of the South African modular chrome expansion roll-out drive, to process copper-containing ore deemed as waste by current or previous operators.

The team has undertaken significant work at Project M over the past quarter, with the first sample material from the extended openpit material expected to be delivered to Sable Refinery in May as part of the development of detailed copper resource definition.

Project M offers the potential to be a sustained long-term supplementary copper supply for Sable Refinery by early 2025 calendar year.

At completion, Project M will include the implementation of a further copper processing module of approximately 35 000 t a month feed processing capacity.

The project forms part of the targeted roll-out of the copper modular units across the Zambian projects which mimics the success achieved through the modular roll-out of chrome units in South Africa.

The Mufulira Slag Project targets the processing of all historical slag waste from the Mufulira smelter operations under a joint venture agreement with Mopani Copper Mines.

JTS has started with the joint technical review of the project to create a processing solution that is environment-friendly. More information about the project will be available once JTS concludes this initial technical review.

The chrome and PGMs production guidance for the financial year to end June 30 remains unchanged at 1.45-million tonnes of chrome concentrate and 42 000 oz of PGMs.

Copper guidance remains at 5 850 t, pending confirmation of the manufacturing timeline of the electrical component delaying the front-end upgrade of Project Roan.

“In conclusion, Jubilee is well-positioned to continue its growth trajectory. Our operational achievements, strategic expansions, and strong market presence underscore our resilience and adaptability in a complex global landscape. We remain committed to delivering value to our stakeholders and playing a pivotal role in the sustainable development of the metals processing industry," Coetzer concludes.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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