Platinum group metals (PGMs) production at Anglo American Platinum's local unit, Unki, jumped 9 percent to 45 800 ounces in the first quarter of 2018, on the back of an increase in tonnes milled. Platinum and palladium production rose by 9 percent to 20 600 and 17 800 ounces, respectively.
Unki has maintained its growth trajectory in the first quarter after it produced a record 165 900 PGM ounces for the full year in 2017 compared to 162 000 ounces in the prior year.
Total PGM production at Unki is expected to hit a record 170 000 ounces for the 2018 full year.
The platinum producer anticipates completion of its smelter in the second half of this financial year at a total cost of $55,7 million.
Government has encouraged mining firms to establish refineries in the country and proposed a 15 percent tax on raw platinum exports in 2013.
This is also expected to promote value addition, job creation and more foreign currency from export of processed minerals as opposed to their raw format.
Overall PGM for the Anglo American platinum group increased by 8 percent to 1 289 200 ounces, including platinum production increase of 7 percent to 613 800 ounces.
Palladium rose 9 percent to 407 400 ounces on improved operational performances across the portfolio.
Own mined PGM production - Mogalakwena, Amandelbult, Unki and excluding Union for prior year comparison) -- increased 18 percent to 580 400 ounces on the back of good performance from Mogalakwena supported by increased production from other own mined operations.
Platinum production was up 17 percent to 363 900 ounces while palladium rose 19 percent to 219 000 ounces.
Total joint venture PGM production rose 14 percent to 298 000 ounces.
Both platinum and palladium rose 14 percent to 135 000 ounces and 86 900 ounces respectively.
Management at the mining giant anticipates to maintain the growth trajectory throughout the year.
"Following the strong quarter production, full year production guidance is expected to be at the top end of the guidance range of 4,7 million to 5 million PGM ounces, including 2,3 million to 2,4 million platinum ounces and 1,5 million to 1,6 million palladium ounces," said Anglo American Platinum.
Refined production and sales volumes will be in line with production, but lower than 2017, which had the Waterval smelter run-out backlog and 2017 stock count gain.