Royal Bafokeng Platinum, in its Quarterly Review and Production Report for the period ended 1 July to 30 September 2021, reports that despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the protracted third wave, which reached its peak during July, the business achieved a record 4E ounce production of 127koz for the reporting period. This has been underpinned by steady BRPM performance and improved Styldrift performance, marginally offset by lower grades and concentrator recoveries.
Total tonnes hoisted for the reporting period increased by 3.5% to 1 340kt, whilst total tonnes milled increased by 7.7% to 1 248kt. For the year to date, total tonnes hoisted amounted to 3 498kt, representing a 13.5% increase compared to the comparative 2020 reporting period.
Total tonnes milled for the year to date amounted to 3 408kt, a 22.5% increase compared to the similar period in 2020. Closing surface stocks at the end of the reporting period are estimated at 228kt.
Total tonnes hoisted and milled for the reporting period increased by 2.6% and 18.6%, respectively, to 682kt and 676kt. Surface stocks reduced by 58kt or 46.8%. Closing surface stocks at the end of the reporting period are now estimated at 66kt.
Merensky tonnes milled for the quarter decreased by 7.9% to 384kt and reduced by 0.6% to 1 020kt for the year to date, compared to the similar period in 2020. The reduction in the year-to-date Merensky volumes is attributable to increased UG2 production as BRPM South shaft transitions to a UG2 biased operation, as its Merensky reserves deplete.
UG2 tonnes milled for the quarter increased by 90.2% to 291kt, whilst year-to-date tonnes milled increased by 80.8% to 828kt, compared to 2020. UG2 volumes represent 43% of total tonnes milled for the quarter and 45% for the year to date.
For the reporting period and year to date, the built-up head grade declined by 2.2% and 4.9% to 3.94g/t (4E) and 3.85g/t (4E), respectively. The reduction is mainly attributable to the increased contribution of lower grade South shaft UG2.
With the 230ktpm footprint completed and planned IMS flexibility in place, the focus is now aimed at developing and embedding the operational maturity and associated efficiencies to enable the mine to sustainably achieve 230ktpm.
Notwithstanding COVID-19 impacting Styldrift’s ability to fully leverage its installed infrastructure capacity effectively, total tonnes hoisted for the reporting period amounted to 658kt equating to a 4.4% increase compared to the corresponding 2020 period.
The average hoisting performance for the quarter amounted to 219ktpm, with a peak of 228kt. Total tonnes milled for the quarter decreased by 2.7% to 572kt, with year-to-date milled volumes increasing by 20.2% to 1 560kt. Closing surface stocks are estimated at 162kt.
The quarter-on-quarter and year-to-date built-up head grade declined by 2.0% and 3.3% to 3.84g/t (4E) and 3.83g/t (4E), respectively, due to on-reef dilution challenges currently being experienced as the northern declines negotiate a known fault zone.
Total tonnes milled for the reporting period amounted to 1 248kt, representing a 7.7% increase compared to the corresponding 2020 period. Merensky and UG2 tonnes milled amounted to 957kt and 291kt, respectively, with UG2 equating to 23% of total milled volumes.
The BRPM concentrator treated 675kt, of which 35kt was UG2 (5%) while the Maseve concentrator treated 446kt, of which 129kt was UG2 (29%). 128kt was toll treated during the period compared to zero for the corresponding period in 2020. For the year to date, total tonnes milled increased by 626kt or 22.5% to 3 408kt.
The combined built-up head grade for the quarter and year to date declined by 2.3% and 4.2%, respectively, to 3.89g/t (4E) and 3.84g/t (4E). The reduction in head grade is attributable to the increased contribution of the lower grade South shaft UG2 from BRPM and the on-reef dilution challenges at Styldrift.
Overall 4E recovery performance remained in line with the reduced built-up head grade and increased toll treatment with the quarter-on-quarter and year-to-date 4E recoveries declining by 3.2% and 2.1% to 81.36% and 81.48%, respectively.
The combination of increased milled volumes, lower built-up head grade and associated reduction in recoveries achieved during the quarter, yielded a 4E metals in concentrate increase of 2.0% to 127koz. 4E metals in concentrate for the year to date increased by 15.0% to 342.8koz compared to 2020.
Equivalent 4E metals in surface stocks are estimated at approximately 25koz.
Group production guidance for the full year remains unchanged as communicated in our 2021 interim results. Subject to any unforeseen operational disruptions, 4E ounce production is expected to be between 475koz and 485koz for the year.
Total cash operating costs per 4E ounce for the Group have been revised and are forecast to be between R16 100 and R16 400, compared to R15 825 and R16 150 previously.
Group capital expenditure is revised lower to R2.1 billion from R2.2 billion, with SIB expenditure between 6% and 8% of operating cost for the year.