Following a series of water leaks, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) has decided to close the Anglo Converter Plant (ACP) Phase B unit, which is part of the smelter complex in South Africa. Repairs were recently completed on previous leaks, and after a comprehensive assessment with further water leaks discovered, the company determined more extensive repair work was needed. The company decided to close the unit and schedule a full rebuild for 2021.

“The ACP Phase B unit has been fragile and has unfortunately recently experienced a number of further instances of water leaks,” Amplats CEO Natascha Viljoen said. “While the ACP management team has done extraordinary work to keep the unit operating safely over the past several months, we have taken this pre-emptive decision to now close the ACP Phase B unit to ensure we protect our employees, operating environment and the integrity of our assets.”

Viljoen said the company will continue with the rebuild of the main ACP Phase A unit, which is expected to be complete toward the end of the year, well ahead of the original schedule of the second quarter of 2021.

At the end of October, Amplats refined 2.4 million PGM ounces (oz). As production continues at roughly 94% of normal production levels, the closure will result in an increase in inventory, which cannot be processed until the ACP is operational.

As a result, Amplats has lowered its refined production and sales guidance for 2020 to 2.5 million PGM oz versus the previous guidance of 3.1 million to 3.3 million PGM ounces. The company said it has contingency plans in place and will be engaging with customers to minimize any disruption to contractual obligations.