Miner Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats) first quarter production fell 6%, hit by problems at power supplier Eskom, operational challenges and ore stockpiling in the same period the year before.
Power cuts implemented by Eskom, which supplies more than 90% of electricity in Africa’s most advanced economy, pose a threat to miners which are among the biggest users of power in the country and are already grappling with weak profits.
Amplats’ total platinum group metal (PGM) production fell 6% to 998 900 ounces for the quarter ended March 31, from 1 062 800 ounces in the same period a year ago.
Eskom cut power across the country in February and March as low coal supplies, a severe cash crunch, and multiple failures at its ageing fleet of power stations throttled supply.
Amplats said the power cuts hit PGM production at its Mogalakwena operations, which declined by 6% to 307 200 ounces, and at its Amandelbult operations, which decreased 7% to 192 800 ounces.
In February, Amplats said it lost 14 000 platinum ounces when Eskom implemented five straight days of power cuts and was considering building a 100 megawatt solar power plant at its Mogalakwena operations.
Amplats said if power disruptions persisted, there could be an impact on the timing of refining the built-up work-in-progress inventory in full, which it expects to have refined by the end of 2019.