JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Platinum-mining company Lonmin expects the repair of its Number One furnace to take about three months, following its shutdown without incident after a leak of molten furnace matte was detected.
The company announced on Monday that an assessment of the furnace revealed that mechanical structure and refractories below the tap hole and the copper tap block needed to be replaced.
While the life of Number One furnace had been extended through careful operation, it was impossible to operate the smelter on a consistent basis during the five-month platinum strike.
Lonmin intended to mitigate operational risk while undertaking repairs to the furnace by bringing forward its planned hearth rebuild, which was originally scheduled and budgeted for October 2015.
The repair was not expected to affect the miner’s refined production for the 2015 financial year as its back-up facilities for such events had been put into operation.
While the furnace was out of commission the Number Two furnace would continue to operate and Lonmin had restarted its three smaller Pyromet furnaces.
The stopping of the Number One furnace had the potential to back-end load sales into the second half of the 2015 financial year and there would be a build-up of concentrate stocks, which was expected to unwind by the end of the year.
While Lonmin was assessing commercial ways to mitigate this, it was maintaining its overall sales and unit cost guidance for the 2015 financial year.
Although the company expected its net borrowings to increase at the end of March 2015 as a direct result of the lower sales volume in the first half of the year, the platinum producer was expected to remain well within its borrowing facilities. The capital spend for the repairs would be absorbed into the guided capital spend for the year.