The vanadium producer said the maintenance work had affected production in the first quarter, which clocked in at 688 tonnes of vanadium, which was 21.8% lower than the corresponding quarter of 2020 and 28.7% down on the fourth quarter of 2020.
Sales were 27.0% lower year-on-year and 37.1% lower quarter-on-quarter at 788 tonnes, due to lower production volumes.
The company said full-year production is likely to be towards the lower end of its 4,100 – 4,350 tonnes guidance range, adding the caveat that the guidance could yet be affected by Vametco’s challenges in achieving consistent plant performance, the slower-than-expected ramp-up following the maintenance shutdown, the recent industrial action, as well as risks associated with the ramp-up of Vanchem’s first phase refurbishment.
“We recognise that Vametco has underperformed at times and work such as the 35-day maintenance shutdown is expected to improve on the reliability and performance issues experienced in the past. Since the industrial action and ramp-up we have seen a stable period of normalised production levels,” said Fortune Mojapelo, the chief executive of Bushveld Minerals.
Between April 16 and April 21 industrial action temporarily stopped production; the dispute has now been resolved.
“Various work streams remain underway to maintain this stability, including maximizing safety and house-keeping initiatives, better managing process system constraints and optimising preventative maintenance programmes,” he added.
“Positively, the vanadium price has continued to rise following a strong start to the year with increased demand in Europe and US on the back of a post-COVID period of growth. As the world continues to open up, we have confidence in the demand side of the vanadium market,” he concluded.