Kumba Iron Ore was hit by infrastructure constraints resulting in 13 percent lower production to 10.2 million tons in the fourth quarter. Photo: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG – Diversified mining conglomerate Anglo American was rocked by infrastructure problems at its iron ore assets and has marginally cut its platinum production guidance for 2018. 

Group production rose by 3 percent, led by copper in the fourth quarter, the company said yesterday.

Anglo, which generates half its revenue from bulk commodities iron ore and coal, said Kumba Iron Ore was hit by infrastructure constraints resulting in 13 percent lower production to 10.2 million tons in the fourth quarter.

Export volumes for 2018 were 4 percent lower at 40 million tons owing to derailments at the Sishen-Saldanha export railway line. The two-week long disruption in November when a truck hit a railway bridge between Vredendal and Lutzville in the Western Cape impacted traffic between the mines and the coast.

The miner also said Minas Rio, Brazil, had produced 200 000 tons (0.2 million) in the fourth quarter after resuming operations since receiving regulatory approvals last month. 

“A key regulatory approval relating to the Minas-Rio Step 3 licence area was granted on December 21, 2018, providing greater operational flexibility and access to higher grade iron ore to support the increase of production towards the full design capacity of 26.5 million tons a year,” the company said.

The mine was shut last March following the discovery of two leakages in the 529km iron ore pipeline from the mine to the Port of Açu.

Anglo said it expects 2019 production in Minas-Rio to increase to between 18 and 20 million tons from a previous estimate of between 16 and 19 million tons. 

In terms of platinum, production rose 3 percent, due to improved operational performances, particularly at Unki mine in Zimbabwe, and its joint venture portfolio.

Amandelbult mine in Limpopo weighed down performance after dropping by 16 percent in the fourth quarter, primarily due to the section 54 stoppage following a fatal incident last October. Load shedding from Eskom and an increase in absenteeism in the final quarter also rocked Amandelbult.

The FTSE 100 company trimmed the platinum production outlook after reaching the end of the tolling arrangement with Sibanye-Stillwater. It expects to produce between 4.2 and 4.5 million ounces, including between 2 and 2.1 million ounces of platinum and between 1.3 and 1.4 million ounces of palladium.

BUSINESS REPORT