Enacy Mapakame, Harare Bureau
Resources group, Zimplats Holdings Limited’s six elements (6E) production for the quarter to December 31, 2019 totalled 115 908 ounces, which was 18 percent below same period in the prior year.
The 6E comprises platinum, palladium, gold, rhodium, ruthenium and iridium. Quarter on quarter, 6E production fell 23 percent.
“6E metal production in final product decreased by 23 percent from the previous quarter mainly due to an increase in concentrate stocks and the build-up of inventory in the furnace on start-up after the 122-day major rebuild shutdown.
“The furnace inventory build-up is expected to reverse during the financial year and it is anticipated that all the concentrates stockpiled will be smelted before the end of the year,” said Zimplats in a report for the quarter under review.
Platinum was the biggest contributor to total 6E production, although it fell 19 percent to 53 107 ounces from 65 605 ounces in the same period in the prior year.
At 45 367 ounces, palladium was 24 percent before the previous quarter and 16 percent below same period last year.
Gold was also on the downside, recording 6 705 ounces, which represented a 14 percent decline from same period in 2018 and 22 percent slower quarter on quarter.
The other 6E metals, rhodium, ruthenium and iridium all recorded declines in production both year on year and compared to the previous quarter.
Silver had a fine run with a 25 percent jump to 12 836 ounces from 10 292 ounces in the previous quarter and 11 percent above same period in the prior year.
Quarter on quarter, nickel, copper and cobalt fell 33 percent, 40 percent and 72 percent respectively.
Total ore mined increased marginally from the previous quarter. At 1 803 tonnes, ore mined for the quarter was 8 percent higher than 1 673 tonnes achieved in the quarter ended December 31, 2018.
Zimplats attributed this growth to improved fleet productivity and additional tonnage from Mupani Mine, which is still under development.
Tonnes milled went down 2 percent from the previous quarter due to lower running time. Running time for the quarter was constrained due to the planned mill reline shutdown at the Selous Metallurgical Complex concentrator.
On the financial side, total operating cash cost worsened 5 percent to US$93 million from US$88 million in the previous quarter.
Zimplats said: “Costs for the previous quarter were low as the furnace was down on its major rebuild.”
Operating cash costs per 6E ounce increased by 30 percent from the previous quarter due to the 23 percent decrease in 6E ounces produced.
Despite the obtaining challenging operating environment, mining firms are expected to stand the heat on the back of their foreign currency exposure as well as other export oriented firms.
One of the main challenges affecting the economy is inflation, poor energy supplies as well as limited access to foreign currency for companies to retool, procure essential raw materials or meet their foreign obligations.