Tharisa delivers record chrome output and increased PGM production

PAPHOS, Cyprus – Tharisa says its PGM basket price was 15.6% higher quarter on quarter (Q3 2021 vs Q2 2021) and remains above US$3 000/oz at the time of writing, despite the recent decline in the rhodium price, highlighting the unique prill split benefits.

The use of PGMs in the hydrogen economy has not been fully recognised as the market is focused on the premature decline of the internal combustion engine. PGMs play a vital role not only in emission control in traditional drive engines but a major role in hydrogen fuel cells, the greening of the economy and PGMs continue to be a critical component of the changing drive train make-up.

Tharisa remains confident that the unique and flexible PGM metal properties will have a robust outlook, being evident in the demand for the precious metals in a number of growing diversified industries, while PGM production increases across the industry remain limited, therefore supporting stronger long-term prices.

Higher chrome ore prices were achieved in the quarter despite subdued demand owing to a reduction of ferrochrome production in China, caused by electricity control measures. Stainless steel producers are operating at historic high levels, creating robust demand for ferrochrome, resulting in tightness of supply and consequently increasing the price of ferrochrome at the end of the quarter, which bodes well for the current and future chrome ore price.

The Company was successful in meeting its delivery obligations, despite continued inland logistical challenges in South Africa and limited shipping availabilities. Sea borne logistics costs continued to trend upwards.

OPERATIONAL UPDATE

  • Record reef mined at 1.5 Mt, up 22.3% QoQ and 16.8% YoY
  • Record tonnes processed at 1.4 Mt, up 5.0% QoQ and 15.8% YoY
  • PGM production up 8.9% QoQ to 39.0 koz (up 11.4% YoY) as rougher feed grade improved by 7.8% to 1.52 g/t
  • Record chrome concentrate tonnes produced at 379.7 kt, up 5.9% QoQ and 18.1% YoY
  • Stripping ratio 10.9 m3: m3 ahead of LOM requirements
  • PGM recoveries impacted by now resolved secondary mill motor issues
  • Optimisation programmes remain on track, with Vulcan construction completion by end September 2021.

GUIDANCE FOR FY2021

  • Guidance is maintained at 155 koz to 165 koz PGMs (6E basis) and 1.45 Mt to 1.55 Mt of chrome concentrates
  • COVID-19 remains a risk to the Company and guidance is premised on the current level of economic activity being maintained.

Phoevos Pouroulis, CEO of Tharisa, commented: “Operationally, the third quarter was one of the strongest in the Company’s history, with record mining and processing rates, supported by strong PGM and chrome pricing. Combined with reaching 5 million fatality free shifts and another excellent LTFIR, Tharisa remains on track to deliver safe and sustainable returns for all of our stakeholders.

Revenues and margins continue to be healthy as the combination of our favourable PGM basket saw record prices, in addition to a steady increase in the pricing of our chrome concentrates. These price increases are a direct result of the increase in demand for our critical metals as economies focus on rebuilding post the global pandemic. Moreover, given the rapid adoption of decarbonisation initiatives, we see these prices being sustainable for the foreseeable future.

Our growth projects remain on track, with the construction of the proprietary Vulcan fine chrome recovery plant on schedule for commissioning by year end, adding additional 20% chrome to our current production levels and these at very low operating costs. Our new development project in Zimbabwe, Salene Chrome, is progressing well and is planned to be in production start-up before the end of the calendar year.

The continued improvement in our mining, underpinned by the consistency of the Tharisa Mine, provides Tharisa with confidence in delivering on our guidance for the full year.”

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