Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) temporarily shut down the entire Anglo Converter Plant (ACP), part of the chain of processing facilities, and the need to declare force majeure. The company’s ACP phase A converter plant, at Waterval smelter in Rustenburg, was damaged following an explosion within the converter on February 10. Nobody was injured in the incident and work has started to repair phase A, which is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2021.
As per normal business procedure, the phase B unit was commissioned to take over from the phase A plant and was in the process of ramping up to steady state, when water was detected in the furnace, according to the company. Notwithstanding extensive testing being conducted to determine the source of the water, and a number of circuits being isolated, water continued to be observed in the furnace. This poses a high risk of explosion and the company determined that it has no other option but to temporarily shut down the phase B unit, to ensure the safety of all employees, and avoid a catastrophic event. It is anticipated that the repair works to fix the phase B unit will take approximately 80 days.
As a result of the temporary closure of the entire ACP, Amplats has had to declare force majeure to customers, suppliers of third-party purchase of concentrate and suppliers of tolling material. Production from mines will continue, and the concentrate from the mines will continue to be smelted at one of its four smelter complexes.
The revised 2020 guidance for Amplats’ refined production for platinum is 1.5 million to 1.7 million oz, down from 2 million to 2.2 million oz. Palladium production will drop to 1.1 million to 1.2 million oz from 1.4 million to 1.5 million oz.