Firmer SA manganese and PGM output lifts up Anglo American

Remote blasting at Anglo American’s Los Bronces Mine. Photo: Supplied

Remote blasting at Anglo American’s Los Bronces Mine. Photo: Supplied

Published Oct 25, 2023


Improved mining performance and greater equipment availability in South Africa aided Anglo American’s production of manganese in its third quarter period to the end of August, with CEO, Duncan Wanblad, saying despite a 4% volume growth for the period, focus is now on meeting full year targets.

Anglo American has coal, copper, manganese, iron ore and platinum mining operations in markets such as South Africa, Chile, Brazil and Zimbabwe among others. Wanblad said overall volume production for the quarter had strengthened by 4% on a quarter on quarter basis.

“Our focus is on delivering our full year production guidance in line with a planned stronger second half of the year. Copper production from Chile decreased due to ongoing ore hardness and an electrical substation fire at Los Bronces, resulting in a minor revision to guidance for our Chile operations,” said Wanblad.

In South Africa, manganese ore production increased for Anglo American by 4% to 1 million tonnes. This has been attributed to “improved mining performance and equipment reliability” at the South African manganese operations.

Its platinum unit, Anglo American Platinum – whose main operations are in South Africa and Zimbabwe – recorded lower production as the company had planned to mine in a lower grade areas at Mogalakwena.

Anglo American Platinum’s share price traded around 3.71% lower in afternoon trade on the JSE at R623.21. This was after it reported that total production of platinum group metals, therefore, decreased by 2% to about 1 million ounces for the quarter period to the end of September.

Of this, platinum output was lower by 1% at 475900 ounces while palladium production was 3% lower at 314800 ounces, with own managed assets down by a similar rate.

Coinciding with lower metal prices, Anglo Platinum also recorded a 9% decline in refined platinum group metals (PGM) production from own production at 909 700 ounces due to an unplanned multi – municipal water stoppage which impacted operations for five days at Rustenburg in July.

Refined PGM output was resultantly slower by some 54 000 ounces although sales volumes for the period increased by 2% to 951800 “due to a draw down” in refined stock during the period under review.

Said Anglo Platinum CEO, Craig Miller, “We remain on track to deliver our 2023 guidance, with a strong focus on operational resilience in the last quarter through safe and sustainable operations.”

Anglo America’s nickel production was also lower for the period by 7%, mainly as a consequence of “lower grades” which pushed output down to 9300 tonnes. However, guidance for the full year remains unchanged.

The diversified resource group has had to revise its copper production for the full year from 840 000 to 930 000 tonnes to 830 000 to 870 000 tonnes as output from Chile decreased by 4%. Production from Los Bronces was also lower by 20% at 45 800 tonnes although there was an overall 42% increase in copper production for the period on account of ramp up from Quellaveco.

“The current unfavourable ore characteristics, including lower grade and higher ore hardness, in the current mining area will continue to impact operations until the next phase of the mine is accessed. At Collahuasi, attributable production increased by 9% to 66,100 tonnes, driven by planned higher grades as well as higher throughput,” Anglo American said.

The 42% increase in copper production was however offset by lower diamond production from De Beers, whose rough diamond production decreased by 23% to 7.4 million carats. This came as there was reduced production from South Africa’s Venetia mine which is transitioning to underground operations.

Rough diamond production from Botswana was also 12% softer at 5.8 million carats, driven by lower throughput at Orapa due to planned maintenance while output from Namibia was flat for the September 2023 quarter period under review.

“In South Africa, production decreased by 78% to 0.4 million carats, due to the planned end of Venetia's open pit operations in December 2022. Venetia will continue to process lower grade surface stockpiles as the underground operations ramp-up production over the next few years.”

In terms of Anglo American’s steelmaking coal, third quarter production decreased by 21% to 4.4 million tonnes, impacted by challenging strata conditions at the Moranbah longwall operation and the ramp-up of Grosvenor in July. There was however higher production from the Capcoal open cut operation.

Anglo American was, however, 1.38% firmer at R476.51 in afternoon trade on the JSE yesterday.