Tawanda Karombo Harare

QUARTERLY revenue in Impala Platinum (Implats) and Aquarius Platinum’s Zimbabwean joint venture mine, Mimosa, jumped 26 percent to $79 million (R832m), lifted by a 9 percent rise in production while a voluntary retrenchment exercise lowered cash costs by as much as 10 percent during the period to the end of last month.

Mimosa is one of the three largest platinum mines in Zimbabwe, which has the world’s second-largest reserves after South Africa.

Winston Chitando, the executive chairman at Mimosa, previously said that it was planning to sink a second shaft to extend the mine’s life.

Two other platinum mines in Zimbabwe were also pursuing expansion programmes.

Mimosa recently instituted a voluntary retrenchment exercise in a bid to streamline costs. This resulted in pushing down production costs for the mine.

“Cash costs at Mimosa net of ‘one-off voluntary retrenchment costs’ were down 10 percent to $803 per platinum group metals (PGM) ounce quarter on quarter – down 2 percent compared to the previous year,” Aquarius said yesterday.

Production of PGMs for the period surged by 17 percent to 60 818 ounces compared to the previous quarter, with Aquarius accounting for half of the production. The PGM production increase has been attributed to “improved stability” of the plant.

Ore mined increased by 9 percent to 648 944 tons while processed volumes also jumped by 14 percent to 648 902 tons. By the end of the period, Mimosa had 165 000 tons in surface stockpiles.

This propped up revenues from the Mimosa mine which jumped 26 percent to $79m. The mine operated at a gross cash profit margin of 30 percent, up from the previous quarter’s margins of 26 percent.

About $6.8m was spent in capital expenditure during the period under review, with the money being used mainly in the procurement of drill rigs, as well as in extending the conveyor belt at the mine.

Jean Nel, the chief executive at Aquarius, said the outlook was positive, with European vehicle sales climbing in the past three months. This had helped improve consumer confidence and global market sentiment.

“The introduction and implementation of Euro VI emissions legislation have also provided support to PGM prices. Aside from the growth in Europe and the US, growth elsewhere appears to still be making up the ground lost… with China continuing to impress with rapid growth in auto sales volumes,” Aquarius said.

Implats shares rose marginally, 0.06 percent, to close at R107.50 on the JSE yesterday while Aquarius’ share price dropped 2.58 percent to close at R4.53.