Tharisa: strong operational performance from mining through to processing

In its market update Tharisa says the PGM spot markets were weaker than the past several quarters, but early indications are that the supply-demand balance is improving, with bottlenecks in the chip and motor industry abating, and stockpiles from some of the major producers being worked through the market.

While COVID-19 seems to remain a short-term risk, global growth looks set to recover, with the increasing emissions standards underpinning prices. On the back of this, prices have risen in the        early weeks of this calendar year, with the current spot basket price at around US$2 700/oz, versus prices received for the quarter of US$2 394/oz.

Chrome prices remained steady quarter on quarter but have seen an uptick to around US$175/t at the end of the quarter owing to increased consumption of chrome concentrates in China, as power restrictions eased in many of the major industrial production hubs resulting in an increase in ferrochrome output supported by stainless steel demand.

Coupled with this increased consumption was a significant destocking of port stocks, reducing from a quarter start of 4.0 Mt to around 2.7 Mt presently, a level not seen since Q1 CY2018. Tharisa continues to deliver chrome concentrates into the market notwithstanding logistical challenges, both inland and sea freight.

OPERATIONAL UPDATE

  • Strong operational performance from mining through to processing, with several initiatives, such as the water management projects ensuring delivery during this rainy quarter
  • Total reef mined steady at 1 413.9 kt (Q4 FY2021: 1 404.7 kt)
  • Record tonnes milled at 1 432.1 kt (Q4 FY2021: 1 428.1 kt)
  • Improvement in PGM rougher freed grade at 1.75 g/t (Q4 FY2021: 1.59 g/t)
  • Chrome yield improving to 28.1% (Q4 FY2021: 27.7%), up 1.4% QoQ
  • Output in both PGM and chrome concentrate reached record quarterly levels
  • PGM production of 47.7 koz, up 9.2% QoQ
  • Chrome output of 401.8 kt, up 1.5% QoQ
  • PGM recoveries were slightly lower at 79.3% (vs 80.0% QoQ) due to the feeding of more oxidised material to improve the future stockpile mix ahead of the plant, which remains at 2-months ROM
  • Zimbabwe update
  • Mining is progressing well at Salene Chrome with two months of ROM stockpile ahead of the plant, which is being commissioned
  • Karo Platinum is awaiting final approvals from the government, which are anticipated during the current quarter

Phoevos Pouroulis, CEO of Tharisa, commented: “A great start to our new financial year, which will see the Company transform further with the developments at our flagship asset, namely the integration of the Vulcan fine chrome recovery circuit at the Tharisa Mine, enabling us to reach 2 Mt per annum of chrome production, reduce costs and carbon emissions per unit. Our diversification and growth plan sees our projects in Zimbabwe becoming fully integrated into the business within this financial year.

Our innovative and strategic initiatives continue to benefit the Tharisa Mine, with both PGM and chrome concentrate output up quarter on quarter, and we see this trend continuing, as we work further on improving our grade mix and upgrading our stockpile levels, not only in volume but in overall quality.

The commissioning of the Vulcan fine chrome recovery and beneficiation plant is nearly complete, with the Voyager Plant throughput being fed into Vulcan, thus ensuring we will start with commercial production from Vulcan in the second quarter as planned.

In Zimbabwe, mining on the high grade Salene Chrome operation is progressing well, with more than two months of stockpile ahead of our mobile plant, which is being commissioned.

On Karo Platinum, we eagerly await the final regulatory sign off from our partners, the Zimbabwean government, so that we can share the exciting plans we have made for the development of this world class resource and project.

A strong start to the year, and I want to thank the Tharisa team for their continued focus and delivery.

We remain firmly on track to deliver, and hopefully exceed, our stated guidance of 165 koz to 175 koz PGMs and 1.75 Mt to 1.85 Mt of chrome concentrates in the current financial year.”

GUIDANCE

FY2022 production guidance of 165 koz to 175 koz PGMs (6E basis) and 1.75 Mt to 1.85 Mt of chrome concentrates is maintained. COVID-19 remains a risk to the Company, and guidance is premised on the current level of economic activity being maintained

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