Tharisa increases 2021 production guidance
Mining News Pro - Tharisa has increased its 2021 production guidance from 155 000 oz to 165 000 oz of platinum-group metals (PGMs), on a platinum, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium, osmium and iridium, or 6E, basis, and from 1.4-million tonnes to 1.5-million tonnes of chrome concentrate.

With its exposure to PGMs, the group, headed by CEO Phoevos Pouroulis, is believed to have an “excellent” financial and operating platform to progress the business through its next phase of growth.

The miner has a favourable split towards palladium and rhodium, the latter of which the miner produced over 13 500 oz for the year ended September 30, which was trading at record spot prices in excess of $13 000/oz.

Additionally, the hydrogen economy’s rapid development and the move to even cleaner emissions standards will benefit the PGM market and Tharisa for some years to come, Pouroulis commented in the statement issued on October 8.

“Our flagship Tharisa mine delivered significant operational improvements following the investment in our assets, the ongoing optimisation of the pit and the flexibility of our processing and distribution capacity,” Pouroulis said.

He noted that the company’s cost control, together with its robust balance sheet, “ensures Tharisa is set to build on this performance” as it restarts construction of its Vulcan plant and continues to assess complementary opportunities to further de-risk the business.

Meanwhile, despite the unprecedented headwinds of Covid-19 throughout the year, all of the Tharisa-owned operations were able to operate “far beyond expectation”, and achieved near pre-Covid guidance despite the significant impact on the mining sector.

Reef tonnes mined for the year totalled 4.97-million tonnes, which is a 7.4% year-on-year increase, with milling 4.1% higher year-on-year at 5.04-million tonnes for the year.

This performance is “particularly impressive”, says Pouroulis, who says that these volumes were attained while increasing the stripping ratio above the life-of-mine requirements.

The opening of the pit also meant that Tharisa had improved flexibility in the reef mix the company feeds into its plants, with over 360 000 t of run-of-mine (RoM) stockpile ahead of the plant.

In terms of processing, both plants performed above nameplate capacity, with steady feed grades of 1.54 g/t for the rougher feed grade on the PGMs and 18% RoM grade on the chome, resulting in PGM recovery rates of 77.1% and 62.3% on the chrome.

Total PGMs production for the year was up just under 2% at 142 100 oz, with the fourth quarter delivering 40 500 oz of the total. Chrome concentrate production was 370 800 t for the quarter, of which 277 600 t was metallurgical grade and 93 200 t was specialty grade.

Overall, this resulted in a yearly output of 1.34-million tonnes of chrome, of which 321 600 t was specialty grade.

Production at the K3 plant was interrupted for a longer period owing to the Covid-19 restrictions on underground mining, resulting in a yearly production of 169 800 t.

Tharisa has also approved the project restart of the construction of the Vulcan plant with anticipated completion in 12 months using internal cash flows and available facilities to finance the construction.