South Africa’s Tshipi Borwa manganese mine provided ASX-listed Jupiter Mines with an interim profit of R336-million, while its Australian Mount Ida magnetite and Mount Mason direct shipping ore hematite projects remain under care and maintenance.
“During the half-year period, the focus was on the sustained increased production at the Tshipi Borwa mine. The mine is now one of the largest and lowest-cost manganese exporters globally, the largest in South Africa and the third-largest in the world,” noted the company in its interim results covering the six months to August 31.
The period under review has seen a steady increase in the manganese price, with the price now stabilising. Productivity and cost enhancements have also been delivered over this period, the company stated.
Tshipi Borwa mine has grown to become a premium asset with a production rate of 3-million tonnes a year, a mining and processing capacity of 3.6-million tonnes a year, and a rail siding and rapid load-out station with a 5-million-tonnes-a-year capacity, as well as a large and shallow resource basin of more than 400-million tonnes with a life-of-mine in excess of 100 years.
Further, the mine is one of the lowest-cost mines from openpit and near-surface operations and its reliance on contractor mining provides operating flexibility to increase or decrease production, while it produces recognised and established product quality.
“The strategy is to further enhance cash flow through optimisation initiatives and the mine is uniquely positioned to further optimise production and costs through regional cooperation and consolidation,” said Jupiter Mines in the statement.
The mine’s experienced management team has been in place since the launch of the project and start-up of production. Jupiter’s external manganese marketing branch in South Africa continues to be successful, recording a post-tax profit of R29-million.
After the March 2017 buy-back, where over R719-million was returned to shareholders, Jupiter has maintained a strong balance sheet, with net assets of over R4.49-billion at the end of the period.
Additionally, Jupiter has just concluded a further R329-million buy-back programme and, subject to manganese prices, further distributions to shareholders can be expected in March 2018.
“The results reflect Tshipi Borwa successfully delivering upon its substantially increased 3-million-tonnes-a-year production plan against a backdrop of cost reduction and optimisation,” said Jupiter Mines.
The company owns 49.9% of the Tshipi Borwa mine.