In this week’s bulletin:
- South Africa’s monthly gold output increases for the first time in nine months,
- Shifting ore mix hits platinum recovery at Lonmin's concentrators, and
- BHP Billiton creates a focused uranium unit in a corporate reshuffle.
South African gold production rose one point three percent year-on-year in May, a one percent increase on April’s output figures, according to data from Statistics South Africa.
This is the first time in nine months that the country produced more gold when compared with the same period the previous year.
Total mining output was up zero point eight percent year-on-year.
South Africa is the world’s largest gold-producing country, and contains more than two-thirds of global platinum resources.
Last year, South Africa’s gold production dropped to an 84-year low, registering a seven point five percent year-on-year decline, while global gold production fell to a ten-year low when it declined three percent year-on-year.
World number-three platinum producer Lonmin admits that poor recovery at its concentrators will lead to the firm deferring the sale of as much as ninety thousand ounces of platinum in the 2008 fiscal year, sparking doubt about the firm's credibility among analysts, and a significant fall in its share price.
The effect of reduced recoveries could reduce its full-year sales to between eight hundred and twenty thousand ounces and eight hundred and forty thousand ounces of platinum.
The company’s previous production forecast for the year had been from nine hundred and eighty thousand to one-million ounces.
Lonmin says that the concentrators are showing reduced recoveries because of the ore mix that they are receiving.
However, the company adds that South Africa’s skills shortage has also negatively impacted on operations.
Diversified miner BHP Billiton has created a separate unit for its uranium assets and reshuffled its management team, as part of the company’s succession plan for when South African-born Marius Kloppers succeeds Chip Goodyear as CEO in October.
The company says that it is separating the Olympic dam operation – the world’s largest uranium mine – and another uranium expansion project from its base metals unit.
Graeme Hunt, president of BHP Billiton’s aluminium unit, will head up the new uranium unit, and Nelson Silvia, who joined BHP Billiton in February to oversee the company's strategy, development and South American operations, will succeed Hunt.
Kloppers will remain as CE of the nonferrous unit until October 1, and BHP Billiton has still to make an announcement on his replacement.
Also, in this week’s Mining Weekly magazine, published on Friday, read our cover story on the growing plethora of platinum juniors, which, according to Investec analyst Leon Esterhuizen, could add a platinum-mining capacity of nearly three-million ounces by 2014.
We also report on Uranium One’s plans to become a full nuclear energy company with a vision to be as large as Areva.
Finally, don’t miss our feature on hydraulics, pneumatics and hydropower.
That’s a round up of this week’s stories on Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly. For more on these and other stories, visit miningweekly.com