Amplats halts refined output yet again

Natascha Viljoen
Natascha Viljoen
Image: SUPPLIED

Anglo American Platinum has again shut its converter plant, disrupting the flow of refined metal from the world’s second-largest supplier of platinum group metals (PGMs) for the second time in 2020.

Amplats, which has both of its converters out of production now, dropped its full-year refined production for the year to about 2.5-million ounces of PGMs from between 3.1-million and 3.3-million ounces before.

Amplats has struggled with its converters since early in 2020, with one exploding after a water leak and faults at its backup and second converter.

Amplats treats concentrate coming from Sibanye-Stillwater, Royal Bafokeng Platinum and others. It is in talks with these companies, it said on Thursday.

The company has contingency plans in place and will be engaging with customers to minimise any disruption to contractual obligations

“The company has contingency plans in place and will be engaging with customers to minimise any disruption to contractual obligations,” it said.

Amplats, which is 80%-owned by Anglo American, said the converter plant, which prepares material coming out of its smelters for the refining process, was shut because of persistent water leaks, which can potentially result in explosions in the high-temperature environment as happened at its other converter plant earlier in 2020.

Amplats flagged the water leaks in its third-quarter production update to the market. On Thursday, Amplats CEO Natascha Viljoen said the converter was “fragile and has unfortunately recently experienced a number of further instances of water leaks”.

The closure was to do “more extensive repair work” and this will conducted during 2021.

Amplats is rebuilding its other converter and the work is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

By end-October, Amplats had refined 2.4-million ounces of PGMs.


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