Total PGM production increased by 7% to 1,021,200 ounces (against prior period Q1 2020), with platinum production 6% higher at 468,100 ounces, and palladium production increasing by 9% to 330,500 ounces.
The improved performance was principally attributable to the lower impact from Covid-19 in the quarter. The second wave of Covid-19 infections led to a staggered return-to-work process in order to ensure effective management of Covid-19 protocols.
This impacted January production, particularly at Amandelbult and Mototolo and led to a loss of 27,000 PGM ounces, compared to the prior period, when 61,000 PGM ounces were lost owing to Covid-19 related shutdowns.
PGM PRODUCTION FROM OWN-MANAGED MINES
Total PGM production from own-managed mines increased by 6% to 594,500 ounces (platinum production increased by 4% to 267,600 ounces, while palladium production rose by 10% to 224,400 ounces).
Mogalakwena PGM production increased by 17% to 328,900 ounces (platinum increased by 13% to 138,000 ounces and palladium production increased by 18% to 152,000 ounces), owing to higher concentrator throughput and grade, as well as the prior period being affected by the national lockdowns to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Amandelbult PGM production decreased by 7% to 156,000 ounces (platinum decreased by 7% to 79,900 ounces and palladium production decreased by 9%, to 35,600 ounces). Production was affected by the impact of the second wave of Covid-19, which led to higher employee infection rates and resulted in the staggered and delayed return to work from the December break, to enable effective management of Covid-19 testing of all employees. Production returned to normal levels from February.
Mototolo PGM production decreased by 4% to 58,600 ounces (platinum production decreased by 5% to 27,000 ounces and palladium decreased by 2% to 16,800 ounces). Production was also impacted by the second wave of Covid-19, as well as lower grades.
In March, the mine successfully completed the concentrator debottlenecking project, which will increase monthly concentrator capacities from 210,000 tonnes to 240,000 tonnes.
Unki PGM production increased by 4% to 50,900 ounces (platinum production increased by 4% to 22,600 ounces and palladium production increased by 2% to 20,000 ounces), as the mine recovered from the impact of Covid-19 in the prior period, as well as benefiting from an increase in grade.
PGM PRODUCTION FROM JOINT OPERATIONS (50% own-mined production and 50% purchase of concentrate)
PGM production from Joint Operations increased by 6% to 200,700 ounces (platinum production increased by 7% to 89,600 ounces and palladium production increased by 5% to 59,800 ounces). This was largely due to a reduced Covid- 19 impact in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020.
Kroondal PGM production increased by 10% to 128,900 ounces (platinum and palladium production increased by 10% to 61,500 ounces and 32,700 ounces respectively). In Q1 2020, 12,000 PGM ounces were sold to a third-party after the declaration of force majeure at the ACP.
Modikwa PGM production was flat at 71,800 ounces (platinum and palladium production were flat at 28,100 ounces and 27,100 ounces respectively). The mine increased throughput but it was mainly from low-grade ore, which adversely affected the built-up head grade and concentrator recoveries.
PURCHASES OF PGM CONCENTRATE FROM THIRD PARTIES
Purchase of PGM concentrate (POC) from third parties increased by 10% to 226,000 ounces (platinum POC increased by 11% to 110,900 ounces and palladium POC increased by 11% to 46,300 ounces). The increase was mainly due to the impact of Covid-19 on production in the prior period.
REFINED PGM PRODUCTION
Refined PGM production owned increased by 59% to 973,000 ounces (refined platinum production increased by 91% to 457,800 ounces and refined palladium production increased by 61% to 317,000 ounces).
This reflected the ACP Phase A unit being fully operational following completion of the rebuild in November 2020. The focus on planned maintenance to rebuild the reliability required at the Base Metals Refinery affected refined production in the quarter.
The ACP Phase B rebuild is on schedule for completion in H2 2021.
Toll refined PGM production increased by 34% to 175,900 PGM ounces.
Production guidance (metal-in-concentrate) is unchanged at 4.2-4.6 million ounces. Refined production guidance is also unchanged at 4.6-5.0 million ounces. Both are subject to the extent of further Covid-19 related disruption.