Jubilee Metals: South African PGM and chrome operations
The expanded PGM operational processing capacity holds the potential to produce 44 000 PGM ounces per annum, depending on feed grades received. The expansion program included the expansion of the chrome processing operations which holds the potential to produce 1.2 million tonnes of chrome concentrate per annum.
The chrome operations play a key role in Jubilee’s PGM operations by not only acting as a feeder system to the PGM operations, but also having the potential to subsidise the PGM unit cost through the sales of chrome concentrate.
PGM basket prices and chrome metal prices were under pressure, retreating by approximately 18% per PGM ounce over the period and 12% per tonne of chrome concentrate. The notoriously volatile chrome markets have seen highly fluctuating metal prices over the past period, with a strong recovery in metals prices post the period under review.
Jubilee sold 18 208 PGM ounces for the six-month period. Notably, 100% of the PGM production stemmed from the new Inyoni Facility. The upgraded facility benefits from the scale of operations, and the period under review highlighted the exposure of such a single large facility to unplanned downtime and introduced circuit instability brought on mainly as a result of interrupted power supply.
The chrome operations, as a by-product of the PGM operations, continued to perform, delivering 634 111 tonnes of chrome concentrate over the period against a targeted 600 000 tonnes. The disproportionate increase in chrome operations over the period offered Jubilee the opportunity to increase PGM feed stock levels by 5 016 PGM ounces in stock to better buffer the Inyoni PGM Facility from power outages suffered at the chrome operations.
The Company has taken decisive steps to integrate its operations more closely with its key suppliers of PGM and chrome containing feed material, to better manage buffer stock capacity. The Company has also implemented its first back-up power units at its chrome facilities to ensure a more constant feed supply and performance. The expansion of the back-up power units is currently under review, with the existing system already delivering 650 hours of backup power to operations since its installation in November 2022.
Operational PGM efficiencies came under pressure due to a scheduled drop in PGM feed grade over the initial four months from third party suppliers, which has since returned to previous higher levels that has continued during the current period.
The PGM basket price over the period decreased by 18% to US$2 019 per PGM ounce compared with the previous period while chrome CIF prices decreased by 16%.