JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – With the release of its production and sales report for the first quarter of this year (Q1 2019), Kumba Iron Ore Limited, part of the Anglo American plc group, has reaffirmed its guidance for total 2019 production and sales, issued in February (when it announced its annual results for 2018). Kumba has two mines in the Northern Cape province – Sishen and Kolomela. The iron-ore miner highlighted that, during the first quarter, it maintained its record of having suffered no fatalities since 2016.
In terms of actual production during Q1 2019, “[t]otal production volumes decreased by 12% compared to Q1 2018, due to maintenance requirements at Sishen and Kolomela,” stated Kumba in its press release. Q1 2019 production totalled 9 516 000 t in comparison to 10 855 000 t during Q1 2018 and 10 170 000 t in Q4 2018. In other terms, total production during Q1 2019 was 12% down on Q1 2018 and 6% down on Q4 2018.
The two mines are linked to their export port of Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape province by an 861 km railway line, operated by the State-owned Transnet group. This was disrupted by derailments last year, including a two-week disruption when an accident damaged a bridge. However, logistical performance improved during Q1 2019.
“Total sales volumes of 10.9-Mt [million tons] were broadly flat relative to Q1 2018 with export sales growth of 2% to 10.1-Mt partially offset by lower domestic sales. Relative to Q4 2018, export sales decreased by 6% due to lower opening stock levels at Saldanha Port at the beginning of the year, following the derailments and bridge incident in 2018.”
“From a mining perspective, waste stripping at Sishen was 3% lower at 40.9-Mt (Q1 2018: 42.2-Mt) due to a marginal reduction in shovel availability. While at Kolomela, longer haul distances led to a 5% decrease in waste stripping to 12.8-Mt. Improving mine to plan practices and operating equipment performance are key priorities as we progress towards new levels of benchmark operating performance.”
The company’s guidance remains that total production for this year will be in the range of 43-Mt to 44-Mt. Total sales should range also from 43-Mt to 44-Mt. The iron-ore producer will continue its “focus on improving its health, safety and operational performance”.