Lower production due to safety stoppages; stronger operating performance expected in six months ahead
Safety stoppages associated with a fatality at Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine (BRPM) and routine Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) inspections resulted in a loss of 87,430 milled tonnes or 10,504 (4E) ounces for the period under review compared with 35,327 milled tonnes or 4,317 (4E) ounces with the comparable period in FY2011.
RBPlat’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Phiri says that the 144% increase in ounces lost due to safety stoppages “highlights the importance of improved safety performance and statutory compliance” but points to “significant improvement in most safety performance measures” during the period under review. The total number of injuries reduced by 40%, and the Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate and Serious Injury Frequency Rate declined by 39% and 25% respectively.
To offset the impact of the safety stoppages, 59,931 tonnes of low-grade (2.0g/t 4E) surface stockpile ore were treated through the BRPM concentrator. While this resulted in tonnes delivered to concentrators remaining relatively stable at 1,189,531 tonnes, the low-grade stockpile ore – together with temporarily lower UG2 grades at South shaft due to off-reef mining and relatively high re-development rates to increase immediately stopeable reserves – led to a 6% reduction in the 4E built-up head grade, from 4.32g/t to 4.04g/t.
Revenue declined by 14% to R1.3 billion, reflecting lower production and a 5% drop in the basket price per platinum ounce to R15,638. Total cash operating costs were 8% higher at R969 million (11% higher per tonne milled at R851), the key drivers being lower volumes, increased development rates and 2 above-inflation costs for labour (CPIX + 3.5%) and power (CPIX + 12.4%). The gross profit margin declined by 44% to 12.5%, reducing earnings per share from 105 cents to 43 cents.
Capital expenditure, lower at R521 million (2011: R592 million), was funded partly from cash generated by operating activities (R319.5 million) and the remainder from cash contributions by the BRPM JV partners.
At 30 June 2012, the RBPlat Group’s balance sheet was ungeared, with a healthy cash and near-cash position of R1.16 billion compared with R1.29 billion for the comparable period of FY2011.
Styldrift 1 Project
On RBPlat’s Styldrift I Project, Phiri says considerable progress has been made. By the end of June 2012, the Main shaft had progressed to a depth of 513.6 metres and the Service shaft to 408.4 metres. In total, 551.5 metres was sunk at the two shafts in the six months under review. The first major sinking milestone, intersection of the Merensky Reef at 594 metres, is anticipated during August 2012, one month ahead of the previously reported target date.
Looking ahead, Phiri says RBPlats expects a stronger operational performance flowing from “seasonal variations, improving safety performance and systematic improvements in immediately stopeable reserves”. Forecast output for the full financial year is 270,000 ounces (4E) and 175,000 ounces of platinum.
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