Tharisa to set more mining output records, looks to Zimbabwe

LONDON (Reuters) - South African-focused platinum and chrome miner Tharisa reported on Monday record production for the full year ended Sept. 30 and said it would increase output further in 2019, sending its share price higher.

It also said it was investing $11 million in exploring in Zimbabwe, where it announced in June it had bought a stake in platinum group reserves.

Full-year production to the end of September for platinum group metals was up 6 percent year-on-year, while chrome rose 8.8 percent, reaching respectively 152,000 ounces and just under 1.5 million tonnes.

For next year, Tharisa said it expected to produce 160,000 ounces of platinum group metals and 1.5 million tonnes of chrome concentrate as it carries on expanding and innovating at its flagship site in the South African Bushveld.

Before political tensions knocked growing international confidence in Zimbabwe, Tharisa said in June it was deepening its exposure to the country with a 26.8 percent stake in platinum group reserves in the platinum and chrome-rich Great Dyke region.

CEO Phoevos Pouroulis said environmental and other regulatory permits were going ahead in Zimbabwe and the company would invest $8 million in drilling for platinum group metals and $3 million in exploring alluvial chrome deposits over a year.

Overall sentiment is bearish on platinum, which has been hit by a fall in demand from the auto industry, and the global market is oversupplied.

Tharisa says it can make a profit in any case because platinum accounts for around half of its platinum group metal revenues, which include more profitable palladium and rhodium, while chrome makes up 60 percent of the company’s revenues.

Pouroulis also predicts platinum will rally and says fuel cell technology, which requires the metal, is gaining momentum as a means of zero-emission transport that does not rely on the electric grid, which often uses fossil fuel.

A U.N. report on Monday increased pressure for radical action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, stating society will have to make drastic changes if it is to prevent catastrophic flooding, droughts and sea-level rise.

To contain global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the report found renewable energy would need to supply between 70 and 80 percent of electricity by 2050 compared with around 25 percent now.

Pouroulis said Tharisa aimed to use solar energy in Zimbabwe, but grid-supplied power it uses in South Africa is from carbon-intensive coal.

BMO Capital Markets reiterated its “outperform” rating for Tharisa and said its forecast growth for 2019 was broadly in line with its estimates.

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