Implats records dip in Rustenburg prodution due to lockdown

Impala Platinum estimates that 6% of production volume was lost at its Rustenburg operations after mines were placed under care and maintenance ahead of the Covid-19 national lockdown.

In a third-quarter production report up to the end of March, the company, which also has mines in Canada and Zimbabwe, said its geographical spread had allowed mining production to continue at varying degrees during lockdown periods, adding that its focus for the rest of the year would be on reducing excess processing stockpiles to secure cashflow. 

"The implementation of the lockdown is estimated to have resulted in a 6% reduction in reported milled tonnage from each of Impala, Marula and Two Rivers," the report said. The reduction is the equivalent of around 26 000 ounces of mine-to-market concentrate production during the quarter.

Implats' attempt to return to production landed the company in hot water earlier this month, leading to the arrest of the executive of its  Rustenburg operations, Mark Munroe, for allegedly violating lockdown rules.

Impala Platinum summoned its workers in the Rustenburg area to return to work ahead of government's amendment to lockdown regulations, which allowed mining companies to phase in operations at reduced capacity.

Business as usual 'not possible'

It said health and safety guidelines aimed at protecting workers against Covid-19 infection were in place at its operations, as the company shifted into operating at 50% capacity.

"The impact of the coronavirus will be a feature for some time and, in our view, operating in a 'business as usual' environment will not be possible until effective prevention and treatment measures become readily available," said CEO Nico Muller.

The Group said it had liquidity headroom of R12.9 billion at 31 March 2020, compared to R12.2 billion at the end of June 2019.

Capital expenditure spend has been impacted by the "wider effects of the South African national lockdown, together with rand weakness on spend in Zimbabwe and Canada," it said.

Implats declared force majeure on its contractual obligations after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a national lockdown in on March 23. The company said the lifting of the force majeure, whether partial or in full, would depend on how the lockdown situation develops.

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