Zimplats PGM production in the quarter to September 2021, decreased 7% from the previous June quarter, weighed down by lower ore mined.
In a trading report for the period, the group said 1.8 million tonnes of ore were mined in the period under review. While this reflected a 1% increase from the prior quarter, volumes were 3% lower than those achieved in the quarter ended 30 September 2020. This was due to lower productivity as a result of the required ramp up of teams recommencing production at Ngwarati Mine from July 1 2021 following the successful rehabilitation of the box-cut highwall.
6E head grade of 3.45 g/t improved 1% from the prior quarter reflecting the benefit of the resumption of production from Ngwarati Mine.
The concentrator at the Selous Metallurgical Complex was shut for a planned mill reline during the quarter under review. While ore milled declined by 5% from the prior quarter, it was stable relative to the September 2020 quarter. As a result, 6E production in final product of 143 061 ounces decreased by 7% from the prior quarter. Metal in final product volumes in the September 2020 quarter were impacted by the deferral of concentrates smelted to the December 2020 quarter and therefore, volumes for the quarter under review were 1% higher.
Total operating cash costs were 1% higher than the prior quarter mainly due to increased Covid-19 spend and insurance costs. A total of US$3 million was transferred from operating costs to closing stocks during the quarter, as the group accumulated ore in anticipation of the commissioning of the third concentrator under construction at Ngezi. The combination
of lower production volumes and higher operating costs resulted in a 4% quarter-on-quarter and a 7% year-on-year increase in operating cash costs of US$680 per 6E ounce.
A total of US$0.4 million was spent on exploration projects, with a further US$1.1 million committed as at 30 September 2021.
The group said exploration activities included mineral resource evaluation, comprising approximately 8 621 metres of surface diamond drilling over existing projects on the two mining leases. Exploration activities increased geological and geotechnical confidence in