Impala Platinum tonnes milled at managed operations increased by 4% to 5.59 million tonnes during the quarter, with higher volumes reported at Impala Rustenburg, Impala Canada, and Marula.
Milled grade was stable at 3.64g/t and improved recoveries and yield resulted in 6E concentrate production at managed operations rising 6% to 569 000 ounces. 6E concentrate production from the joint ventures at Mimosa and Two Rivers increased by 2% to 135 000 ounces.
In the prior comparable period, the implementation of the Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa on the 25 March 2020 was estimated to have resulted in a 6% reduction in reported milled tonnage from Impala Rustenburg, Marula and Two Rivers, equivalent to approximately 26 000 ounces of 6E mine-to-market concentrate production foregone.
In the quarter under review, mine-to-market 6E concentrate production improved by 6% or 37 000 ounces to 704 000 ounces, with only Zimplats reporting lower volumes as mining and processing efficiencies were impacted by the high wall subsidence at the Ngwarati Mine box cut.
IRS 6E in concentrate receipts from third-party and toll customers declined by 7% to 79 000 ounces, resulting in gross Group concentrate production rising by 4% to 783 000 ounces.
Refined 6E production, which includes saleable ounces from Impala Canada, declined by 7% to 800 000 ounces, with the prior comparable period characterised by a material reduction in excess accumulated inventory.
Production in the quarter under review was impacted by Eskom load curtailment, the furnace re-line at Zimplats, the start of scheduled maintenance at the No 5 Furnace at Impala Rustenburg and interruptions to third-party hydrogen supply at the Base Metals Refinery at the start of the period.
6E sales volumes of 862 000 ounces increased by 14% and were broadly in-line with contractual requirements in the period, with some additional destocking of iridium and ruthenium as demand and pricing improved for these metals.
Nine months ended 31 March 2021 Group production in the nine-month period ended 31 March 2021 benefitted from the inclusion of Impala Canada for the full reporting period. Tonnes milled from managed operations increased by 11% to 17.38 million tonnes, while the average 6E mill grade declined by 2% to 3.66g/t.
The 9% increase in mine-to-market 6E concentrate production to 2.19 million ounces reflects the benefit of increased contributions from Impala Canada and higher volumes at Impala Rustenburg, Marula, Two Rivers and Mimosa.
6E third-party and toll material received in concentrate of 275 000 ounces were stable relative to the prior comparable period. In total, gross 6E concentrate production increased by 8% to 2.47 million ounces.
Refined 6E production in the prior comparable period was significantly impacted by planned maintenance at the Zimplats furnace and Impala Rustenburg’s smelting complex in H1 FY2020, which constrained processing capacity.
During the period under review, gross refined volumes benefitted from improved availability at Group processing assets and the inclusion of saleable production from Impala Canada from the start of the financial year.
In total, gross refined 6E production increased by 14% to 2.49 million ounces. Palladium volumes increased by 24%, reflecting the palladium dominance of Impala Canada’s metal production, with rhodium and platinum volumes improving by 10% and 9% respectively.
The implementation of a revised stock allocation policy between IRS and Impala Rustenburg in the prior comparable period resulted in a beneficial allocation of refined volumes to Impala Rustenburg. Consequently, while Impala Rustenburg’s refined 6E production declined by 7% to 1.03 million in the nine-month period under review, refined volumes at IRS increased by 28% to 1.29 million ounces.
The excess 6E in concentrate inventory of 100 000 ounces identified at FY2020 year end was reduced by approximately 60 000 ounces over the nine-month period. 6E sales volumes of 2.48 million ounces increased by 19% from the prior comparable period and benefitted from saleable production from Impala Canada and some destocking of iridium and ruthenium as demand and pricing strengthened during the nine-month period.