Unki first quarter output remains flat

Enacy Mapakame

PLATINUM Group Metals production at Anglo American Platinum Limited’s local unit, Unki Mine, remained flat at 62 800 ounces during the first quarter of 2024, as overal group performance went southwards.

Platinum and palladium production at Unki rose by a marginal 1 percent each while rhodium rose 4 percent above the same quarter last year.

Further gains were offset by production declines recorded in other PGMs, which went down 3 percent to 7,100 ounces.

Unki recorded tonnes milled remained flat for the quarter under review.

According to the group’s performance update, all the other units recorded declines in production except for Mogalakwena and Unki, which remained flat for the quarter.

Total PGM production volumes during the quarter under review stood at 834 100 ounces, which was 7 percent below the same quarter last year.

Own-managed mines PGM production went down by 6 percent 1 to 504 300 ounces primarily at Amandelbult and Mototolo, while both Mogalakwena and Unki’s production were in line with the prior period. 

Anglo disposed of its 50 percent interest in Kroondal during the fourth quarter of 2023, resulting in Kroondal production being reported as a third-party purchase of concentrate (POC) agreement from November 2023.

Figures from the group show that purchase of PGM concentrate (POC) also decreased by 10 percent to 329,800 ounces.

Refined PGMs production (owned production, excluding tolling) was 628,000 ounces, similar to the prior period. According to the group, this was consistent with lower first-quarter production as a result of the annual stock count and planned maintenance of processing assets.

Total PGM sales volumes (from production, excluding sales from trading) were broadly flat at 707,500 ounces according to the group. 

The average first quarter realised basket price of $1 483 per PGM ounce was 30 percent (or 26 percent in ZAR terms) lower than the same period in 2023, predominantly due to a 61 percent lower rhodium price and 38 percent lower palladium price.

During the period under review, nickel production increased by 42 percent to 4,700 tonnes and copper production increased by 22 percent to 3,300 tonnes. The quarter under review also benefited from higher-than-normal work-in-progress smelter matte inventory, following the release of the built-up concentrate stocks in 2023. An optimised annual maintenance shut at the Base Metals Refinery decreased plant downtime and increased operating efficiency.

The group maintains its production guidance for 2024 for metal in concentrate (M&C) and refined production, which is unchanged and is expected to be between 3,3-3,7 million PGM ounces, subject to the impact of Eskom load-curtailment.

“While metal-in-concentrate production for the first quarter is lower than the same period in 2023, reflecting a temporary impact of the restructuring process, we remain on track to deliver against our 2024 operational guidance,” said group chief executive officer (CEO) Craig Miller, commenting on the performance.

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