According to Matlala, the performance was due to a stronger market, the impact of the Eskom buy-back agreements and the good performance of the Venture’s furnaces.
In addition, the investment made over the last ten years to optimise the company’s infrastructure was yielding tangible results.
“The Rustenburg smelter continues to operate efficiently due to the positive impact of the Tswelopele pelletising and sintering plant,” she explained.
According to the company, the Venture’s operating capacity utilisation for the first quarter of 2014 was 95% compared to 74% for compared to last year.
In addition, ferrochrome sales volumes for the first quarter of 2014 increased by 9% year on year.
However, a negative impact on production was the ongoing strike action in the platinum industry which has resulted in reduced UG2 production and higher chrome ore input costs at the venture’s furnaces during the first quarter of 2014. This was a “consequence of a higher percentage of own mined ore compared to UG2,” said Matlala.