Mining giant and Unki Mine’s parent company – Anglo American Platinum Limited – says production will return to pre-Covid 19 levels this year.
Platinum group of metals (PGM) is expected to reach between 4,2 million and 4,6 million ounces in 2021, while refined production is expected to hit 4,6 million to five million ounces.
PGM sales volumes are forecast to be in line with refined production as the supply and demand for PGMs are both forecast to rise in 2021 compared to 2020.
“Looking ahead, we are building on our strong foundation of an unmatched portfolio of world-class assets, using our capabilities to implement world-class operational performance, technological advancements, digitalisation and a broader innovative mindset to drive further performance improvements.
“We believe the precious metals we mine will play an increasingly important role in enabling a low carbon economy, and we continue to invest in a wide range of efforts to develop and commercialise new applications for those metals,” said chief executive officer Natascha Viljoen.
In 2020, the group reported 64 percent increase in basic earnings on the back of strong prices for the PGM basket.
The group delivered a record EBITDA of R41,6 billion, an increase of 39 percent from 2019.
Operationally, total PGM production declined by 14 percent year-on-year to 3,808,900 ounces, mainly due to the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Total refined production, excluding tolling, declined by 42 percent to 2,713,100 ounces.
At Unki, PGM production decreased by 3 percent to 196,100 ounces primarily due to the Covid-19 national lockdowns and disruptions as mining operations lost nine days of production, concentrator operations lost 33 days, and smelting operations lost 60 days.
The mine was back at normal production levels from early in the third quarter.
Unki recorded an adjusted EBITDA margin of 46 percent compared to 35 percent in 2019.
According to the group, US dollar cash operating costs at Unki were 11 percent lower at US$145 million.
However, the US-dollar-denominated costs were adversely impacted by the weakening of the rand against the US dollar, with the South African currency depreciating by 13 percent on average for the year.
Consequently, ZAR-denominated cash operating costs increased by 1 percent to R2,4 billion despite lower production which resulted in cash operating costs per PGM ounce to rise by 4 percent to R12 198 per ounce. Unki improved the built-up head grade by 4 percent.
The mine incurred R26 million of costs (operating and capital expenditure) as part of its digitalisation programme during 2020, which included installing underground Wi-fi infrastructure, as well as a fleet data management system to track analytics on primary production equipment.
This will enhance real-time data analysis, improve short-interval control and overall equipment effectiveness.