Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) said on Tuesday it had completed repairs to its converter plant which broke down earlier this year, forcing the company to declare a force majeure to suppliers. 

A force majeure is declared when a company is unable to meet is contractual obligations due to unforeseen circumstances.

Early in March, Amplats announced that damage had been detected in the Anglo Converter Plant Phase A and Phase B units, leading to the shutdown of the plant. 

However, repairs to the Phase B unit, expected to cost R150 million, were finished ahead of schedule, allowing the company to restart processing operations from 12 May.

CEO Natascha Viljoen said the force majeure would be lifted on that date.

Testing

“We have carried out substantial testing to ensure the stability of the ACP Phase B unit, and as we complete the ramp-up, we are engaging with suppliers of concentrate to lift force majeure imminently,” said Viljoen.

Repair work to the Phase A unit continues and is progressing in line with the project plan. Work on Phase B was carried out during the extended lockdown period.

Amplats indicated that the disruption was expected to slash the production of PGMs by 900 000 ounces in 2020.

Following the declaration of the force majeure, Sibanye-Stillwater announced that it had reached an agreement with Anglo Platinum regarding the processing of all platinum group metals produced from Rustenburg and Platinum Mile operations, as well as nearly half of the minerals produced from Kroondal, at its Marikana processing facilities.

Mining companies in the country have meanwhile started ramping up production following the easing of Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

During level 5 of lockdown, mining companies were instructed to put companies on care and maintenance, with surface mining and smelters operating at reduced capacity.

“With mining activity resuming to varying degrees under the current Level 4 lockdown restrictions, the company is now able to begin processing concentrate and releasing metal from the pipeline,” Amplats said.

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