A slow start after the Christmas break, coupled with safety stoppages, contributed to the 10 percent year-on-year drop in production at Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) concentrators in the first quarter, the company said last week.
A total of 498 000 tons were produced from concentrators in the first quarter, down from 555 000 tons a year earlier, RBPlat said in a quarterly review released on Thursday.
Stoppages related to section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act accounted for the loss of 35 416 tons, compared with 19 654 tons in the first quarter of last year.
Lower tonnages of platinum group metal (PGM) ores were delivered to concentrators, resulting in a 14 percent decline in volumes treated and a 6 percent decline in ounces-in-concentrate.
There was a 9 percent increase in the PGM built-up head grade because of a plant clean-up following the Christmas break and adjustments for ounces delivered to Anglo American Platinum in the last quarter of last year.
“Production in April has thus far been encouraging and the company is expecting an improved operational performance for the remainder of the year,” RBPlat said.
Capital expenditure (capex) was boosted 51 percent from a year ago to R306.4 million.
Expansion capex rose 72 percent to R249.7m in line with the acceleration in the Styldrift 1 construction schedule. Replacement capex declined 14 percent to R32.5m because of mining-related savings on the Bafokeng Rasimone mine decline extension.
“Stay-in-business capital expenditure increased by 20 percent to R24.3m and remains within our target range of between 6 percent and 8 percent of operating costs,” the company said.
The Styldrift 1 expansion was 44.67 percent complete. The sinking of the main shaft had reached a depth of 708m and the services shaft to 723m, the company said.
Styldrift 1 capex for the quarter was R242.4m. Total expenditure for the project in this financial year was forecast at R1.908 billion, as planned.
The Bafokeng Rasimone phase 3 project was 61 percent complete, which was 6 percent ahead of schedule. The project remained below budget, with expenditure for the quarter of R32.46m and expenditure for the project to date of R617.79m.
RBPlat, which listed on the JSE in November 2010, has been unscathed by the platinum belt wage strike after it concluded an agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers last year.
In March RBPlat reported a solid performance amid a tough operating environment for the full year to December. It announced a 66 percent increase in full-year headline earnings a share to R1.73 and a 24 percent increase in cash generated by operations to R907.8m.
It also raised R1.5bn for the Styldrift project, comprising a bookbuilding to institutional investors of R700m and a rights offer to RBPlat shareholders of R800m.
The shares rose 0.95 percent to close at R67 on Thursday.