South Africa entered a 21-day lockdown on March 25, and, since April 6 mining activities have continued on a ‘reduced’ basis, just using the 300,000 tonne per month Voyager plant.
“We are pleased with the stable performance over this past quarter which was in line with reaching our Vision 2020 targets for the end of calendar 2020,” Phoevos Pouroulis, Tharisa chief executive said in a statement.
Pouroulis added: “Since the commencement of the lockdown, Tharisa has fully complied with the DMRE to ensure that the Tharisa Mine is able to continue reduced operations during the lockdown period.
“Tharisa is a significant producer of chemical and foundry grade chrome concentrates which are used in a number of essential industries.”
“I am extremely proud of our team working tirelessly with the DMRE and the Minerals Council to enable the Tharisa Mine to continue operations during the lockdown period, whilst safeguarding our employees in terms of social distancing and improved health measures in an already open air, low labour intensive environment," he said.
The company’s metallurgical chrome contracts were put into force majeure, as were agreements with platinum metals concentrate off-take buyers.
It added that lenders have proactively supported the business, stockpile financing is in progress. Meanwhile, capital projects have suspended.
Pouroulis described the potential impact of COVID-19 as “a significant and unquantifiable threat to South Africa's economy”, whilst adding that the company fully supports the government's initiatives to combat the global pandemic.
Tharisa mined 1.13mln tonnes from the Reef in the quarter, with 1.16mln tonnes milled.
The Platinum Group Metals (PGM) recovery rate was marked at 83.7% as the company produced 32,000 ounces. Chrome recovery came in at 61.8%, and it produced 310,000 tonnes.
Statistics for the six months to March 31 showed Reef mining at 2.27mln tonnes, with 2.4mln tonnes milled.
PGM recovery was 82.9% while chrome recovery was 62.5%, and some 66,500 ounces of PGM was produced along with 652,600 tonnes of chrome concentrate.
Third-party chrome production totalled 117,000 tonnes.
In the six month period to the same date, the company saw a PGM basket price of US$1,612 per ounce.