- Half of Anglo American Platinum's mines are still operating below capacity.
- Just two of its operations are at full capacity.
- An analyst believes Covid-19 may push the platinum sector further towards mechanisation.
Anglo American Platinum has half its mines still operating below capacity since the easing of Covid-19 lockdown regulations began. Of its operations, only Mogalakwena operation in Limpopo and Unki in Zimbabwe are at full capacity.
Anglo American Platinum CEO Natasha Viljoen said the lockdowns had slashed production by 25% in the quarter to end-June, when compared with the corresponding period last year. Amandelbut mine is currently at 50% and gearing up to 85%, while Mototolo is closing in on full capacity.
Apart from the lockdown interruptions, the miner, which is controlled by Anglo American, was impacted by repeated breakdowns of its metal processing units and load shedding.
Gregory Rodwell, senior metal and mining analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said the Covid-19 may push the platinum sector towards further mechanisation, which would make the industry less susceptible to pandemics and in the long run make it more profitable.
He noted that the vast majority of South African platinum and gold mines were underground and require a higher degree of capital expenditure to keep the mine on care and maintenance whilst the mine is not in production.
Viljoen said Anglo American Platinum was going ahead with plans of driving technological advances to its operations pointing at the R1.3 billion transformation of its Amandebult mine into a mechanised operation.
She said the technological advances were aimed at driving further efficiencies not only from the production point of view but also energy and water.
Rodwell said platinum and palladium prices were down on their levels before the pandemic on the back of lower vehicle production globally, where most platinum demand stems.
Despite the impact on demand, Anglo American Platinum expects platinum, palladium and rhodium to remain in deficit this year.