Sibanye Stillwater reports on its gold and PGM metals operations
Production from the SA PGM operations for 2022 (including attributable ounces from Mimosa and third-party purchase of concentrate (PoC) of 63,344 4Eoz) of 1,730,808 4Eoz, was marginally below the lower end of annual guidance for 2022.
This was a solid performance considering the ongoing impact of Eskom load curtailment as well as factors highlighted previously, including copper cable theft and proactive safety related stoppages.
In absolute terms, costs at the SA PGM operations continued to be well managed, with AISC (excluding PoC) of R30 billion (US$1.8 billion) only 3% higher year-on-year. As a result of the year-on-year decline in production however, AISC for 2022 was 14% higher than 2021, increasing to R19,313/4Eoz (US$1,180/4Eoz).
This was primarily due to the increased load shedding during H2 2022, with AISC of R20,431/4Eoz (US$1,179/4Eoz) for H2 2022, 13% higher than for the first half of 2022 (R18,160/4Eoz (US$1,179/4Eoz)).
SA GOLD OPERATIONS
The SA gold operations (excluding DRDGOLD) were suspended for three months during H1 2022 due to the industrial action and lockout resulting in a 50% decline in production for 2022 to 13,736kg (441,623oz).
Production of 10,608 kg (341,055oz) for H2 2022, was significantly improved compared to production of 3,128kg (100,568oz) for H1 2022, reflecting the successful ramp up post the industrial action and the completion of the tailings storage facility (TSF) remediation at the Beatrix operation.
More normalised rates of production were achieved during November 2022 and have been maintained during Q1 2023 to date. Including DRDGOLD, production for the year was 19,301kg (620,541oz). In the absence of any further disruptions, which are not expected, production for 2023 is forecast to be significantly higher than for 2022, with correspondingly lower unit costs.
US PGM OPERATIONS
The ramp-up of production from the US PGM operations post the regional flood event in early June 2022 progressed well, with production rates normalising during Q4 2022.
Mined 2E PGM production for 2022 of 421,133 2Eoz was 5% below the lower end of annual guidance, reflecting the full impact of the flood event as well as ongoing operational constraints which contributed to the repositioning of the US PGM operations as presented to the market in August 2022 of US$1,586/2Eoz (R25,951/2Eoz) for 2022 were substantially higher than AISC of US$1,004/2Eoz (R14,851/2Eoz) reported for 2021, primarily as a result of lower production, compounded by inflationary cost impacts and increased ore reserve development (ORD) and sustaining capex associated with the repositioned plan, which resulted in a significant increase in unit costs for H2 2022 relative to H1 2022. Implementation of the repositioned plan is in process, with production forecast to build-up to 700,000+ 2Eoz by 2027 and AISC reducing to less than US$1,000/2Eoz, once flexibility has been restored across the complex and the new cemented backfill plant at Stillwater East has been completed.