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Unki Mine reports marginal growth

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THE local unit of Anglo American Platinum Limited reported a marginal growth in output in 2021 following the easing of Covid-19 regulations and the commissioning of a new project, the company has announced.

Total Platinum Group Metals (PGM) production at Shurugwi-based Unki Mine increased by 4% to 204 600 PGM ounces (2020: 196 100 ounces).

Tonnes milled increased by 7% year-on-year following the recovery of operations from the impact of Covid-19 in 2020 and the successful commissioning of the concentrator de-bottlenecking project, which has increased concentrator capacity from around 000 tonnes per month to approximately 210 000 tonnes per month in the fourth quarter of 2021 and should lead to an annual PGM production of around 250 000 PGM ounces, the company said in its annual report.

“This was partially offset by a 2% reduction in 4E built-up head grade from 3.58g/t to 3.52g/t. Cash operating costs rose by 15%, or R348 million (nearly US$184 million) to R2.7 billion as a result of the increased mining activity and above-CPI inflationary input cost increases. Unit costs increased by 10% to R13,392 per PGM ounce (2020: R12,198 per PGM ounce). Unki’s Earnings Before Interest Tax Depreciation and Armortisation (EBITDA) increased by 171% to R6.2 billion (2020: R2.3 billion), with a mining EBITDA margin of 62% (2020: 46%). Return on capital employed (ROCE) increased to 114% (2020: 38%).”

Anglo American Platinum, according to the report, delivered a record financial performance in 2021, driven by higher PGM prices and higher sales volumes, resulting in higher margins and returns.

The US dollar PGM basket price increased by 36%, with the rand basket price increasing by 22% to R40 511 per PGM ounce (2020: R33 320 per PGM ounce) on the back of a stronger rand.

The increased profitability and strong free cashflow generated enabled significant shareholder returns in 2021.

Going forward, Anglo American Platinum says it sees improved output in 2022 driven by high demand in the automotive industry which uses the white metal to manufacture catalytic converters — critical components in reducing carbon emissions.

“Industry consensus is that 2022 will be a much stronger year, with leading automotive industry analysts LMC Automotive and IHS forecasting year-on-year gains of 12% and 9%, respectively,” the company said.

“This is backed up by tentative signs towards the end of 2021 that the semi-conductor shortage was easing, both in terms of a higher and more consistent flow of chips becoming available and vehicle manufacturers becoming more confident as to how to live with constrained supply. Covid-19 remains a downside risk to production plans.” — STAFF WRITER.

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