6 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Unki Platinum Output Up 20 Percent

PLATINUM output at Anglo Platinum's local unit, Unki Mine, increased 20 percent to 62 100 ounces last year from about 51 700 ounces in the previous comparable period. Amplats, the world's largest platinum miner, said Unki Mine in Zimbabwe's Midlands Province continued to exceed its ramp up schedule.

Square metres mined increased by 41 percent year-on-year while tonnes milled rose by 20 percent.

Unki Mine is the process of being indigenised under the country's indigenisation laws after Amplats agreed to dispose 51 percent shareholding to indigenous Zimbabweans. Amplats said last year it intends to build a mine which would have similar capacity with current operations for US$400 million.

Overall, Amplats refined 2,4 million ounces of platinum, but sold 2,2 million ounces.

The company lost 305 600 ounces of platinum to the strike at its mines in South Africa, as well as those of its joint venture partners.

The reduced production and high costs of mining pushed the company into a loss for the 2012 financial year. It recorded a 141 percent fall in headline earnings to a R1,47 billion loss.

Its net debt grew by R6,8 billion to R10,5illion. Amplats is not paying a dividend.

Meanwhile, Amplats has urged its workforce in SA to recognise the enormous damage caused by a two-month, illegal strike and commit to not downing tools this year.

The dramatic reversal in its financial health stemmed largely from the unprotected strikes at its Rustenburg, Union and Amandelbult mines late last year.

There were lengthy strikes at other platinum mines and South Africa's largest gold mines last year as workers defied the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers and downed tools in pursuit of their demands, which included higher wages.

"We certainly don't foresee the kind of situation we saw last year. We are hoping that all stakeholders will realise that this has caused massive damage to all companies," Amplats chief executive Mr Chris Griffith said on Monday.

"For our company, this is its first loss in its history. This is very serious and we hope all stakeholders will act with reticence before contemplating industrial action again this year."

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