Action on troubled Rustenburg mines a “key imperative” – Implats CEO – by Brendan Ryan (MiningMx – April 26, 2018)

Impala Platinum (Implats) has dropped its refined platinum production guidance for the year to end-June to 1.46m oz from the previous estimate of 1.5m following smelter problems at the Rustenburg division.

CEO Nico Muller commented, “following operational issues affecting the smelter at Impala Rustenburg, which resulted in lower refined volumes and the stockpiling of metal-in-concentrate, all group furnaces are now operational and making steady progress in processing the inventory build-up.”

But he pointed out the furnace problems experienced meant not all the metal-in-concentrate could be refined before the end of the financial year hence the revised production forecast. Accumulated “above normal” pipeline stocks are expected to be some 100,000oz of platinum at the end of June.

In his report for the March quarter Muller also addressed the restructuring review underway at the Rustenburg division which was highlighted in a recent research report by JP Morgan Cazenove.

According to the JP Morgan report, Implats is the “most vulnerable” producer in South Africa’s embattled platinum sector and the report predicted that its Rustenburg mines would “burn more than $1bn in cash at current metal prices across 2018 – 2020, equivalent to Implat’s market capitalisation.”

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