The miner has notched up another quarter of record production at its Tharisa mine in South Africa with rising output of specialty chrome concentrates, which attract a premium price.
It may need that additional premium as the market for the steel-additive has been pretty horrible of late.
From a price of US$338 per tonne, the chrome price has slumped to US$147, though chief executive Phoevos Pouroulis said it has picked up a bit since then to around US$160-170.
The good news for Tharisa is that it can still make a good margin at that level as its all-in-sustaining-costs are around US$88 per tonne.
Platinum, meanwhile, is bouncing around the US$800 per oz level for a basket with its associated metals, rhodium and palladium.
High grades earn more
In the third quarter high grade specialty chrome production rose 26% to 87,000t, while production of platinum and associated metals rose 3.2% to 35,400oz.
PGM recoveries at 81.3% and chrome recoveries at 66.0% were also ahead of target.
Pouroulis added that Tharisa Minerals had again shown incremental improvements in production volumes and recoveries.
Production guidance for the full year was left unchanged at 147,400 oz PGMs on a 6E basis and 1.3 Mt chrome concentrates, of which 300,000t will be specialty grade chrome concentrates.
Tharisa to become operator
Another change due shortly is for Tharisa to take over the running of the mine, which will involve it buying the mining fleet from its contractor.
This needs approval from the South African authorities, but Pouroulis adds that the benefits are a greater direct control over the inputs in to the processing plant.
This will minimise dilution and with the right with feed grads going in at the right level “should produce more product”.
Mining charter being watched closely
A new mining charter is being introduced in South Africa, which has already been threatened with legal action by mining trade body the Chamber of Mines.
Pouroulis is more sanguine as he says Tharisa is one the country’s new age miners.
In its latest half year to March, revenues more than doubled to US$175 while underlying profits rose by 451% to US$81mln.