Jubilee Metals new partnership agreement for its PGM and chrome operations

Jubilee Metals Group PLC (LON:JLP), a leader in diversified metals processing, with operations in Africa, has announced a new partnership agreement for its PGM and chrome operations in South Africa.

Highlights

  • Jubilee expands its operational chrome footprint by a further 360 000 tonnes per annum processing capacity targeting an additional 200 000 tonnes chrome concentrate and 10 000 oz PGM feed to Inyoni, through a new partnership agreement.
  • The new partnership establishes a long-term relationship directly with a producing mining operation on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex, offering Jubilee greater exposure to the potential earnings of the chrome produced through Jubilee’s renowned efficiencies.
  • Under the terms of the Agreement, Jubilee has committed to upgrade the existing brownfield processing facility at the mine, by retrofitting Jubilee’s proven process solution (“the Plant”), to reach an annualised processing capacity of 360 000 tonnes of run-of-mine (“ROM”) per annum by end June 2023.
  • The accelerated upgrade of the Plant has already commenced by leveraging off available processing infrastructure at Jubilee’s current chrome operations.
  • Jubilee has the option to further expand the processing facility to reach 720 000 tonnes per annum (producing an expected 390 000 tonnes per annum of chrome concentrate).
  • Jubilee has budgeted a capital investment of US$8 million to complete the Plant, which will be funded through Jubilee’s own cashflows and balance sheet.
  • Under the terms of the Agreement, Jubilee’s potential earnings per tonne of chrome concentrate produced, represent a five-fold increase over existing toll treatment terms (toll agreements delivering a 4% margin at today’s prices).
  • The Agreement is in line with the Company’s growth target of reaching an annualised production rate of 2 million tonnes (in excess of 60% increase) of chrome concentrate over the next 24 months.
  • Chrome prices continue to remain strong, balancing weaker PGM prices which supports Jubilee’s strategy to produce a diverse basket of commodities.
  • In addition, Jubilee has continued the roll-out of emergency back-up power to its operations reaching 60% of its total chrome processing capacity which provides the feed to the PGM operations.

STATEMENT FROM LEON COETZER, CEO:

“Jubilee’s proven processing excellence continues to attract partnerships with large mining companies seeking best-in-class operational processing groups.

“This new partnership agreement presents a more integrated long-term relationship with an existing chrome producer that will offer a stronger integration of the processing solution with the source of the material ensuring a long-term stable production profile. Under this new template agreement, Jubilee is offered a much greater exposure to the earnings derived from the sale of chrome concentrate.

“At current market prices, the Agreement offers the potential for Jubilee to increase its current chrome earnings margins per tonne of chrome concentrate produced by nearly five-fold compared with the existing chrome toll agreements which achieves only 4% at today’s prices.  

“We aim to expand our South African operational footprint by 65% over the next 24 months to reach nearly 2 million tonnes of chrome concentrate annually as we continuously strive to enhance our earnings.

“At our Zambian copper operations, current expansion continues to progress and remains in line with guidance. I look forward to providing further detail on the implementation of the Zambian copper strategy in due course as the results from the testing and design work are finalised.”

Overview

The Jubilee chrome operations in South Africa play a key role in driving the performance and growth of the PGM operations. Chrome is recovered first from the chrome and PGM-bearing ore before being processed further to recover the PGMs at the Inyoni facility. The high efficiencies achieved by Jubilee’s chrome operations not only produce better quality and more chrome product, that attracts chrome producers to Jubilee’s operations, but also provides a cleaner PGM-rich feed that is more amenable to the PGM recovery process.

To date, Jubilee has contracted its chrome operational capacity predominantly on a fixed chrome margin contract by tolling various chrome producers’ materials while retaining the majority of the earnings from the PGMs recovered.

As Jubilee looks to expand its chrome and PGM production by entering into new long-term partnership agreements, Jubilee intends to position itself as a stronger participant in the revenues from the sale of the produced chrome concentrates. This offers Jubilee greater exposure to the chrome market fundamentals while retaining the protection of the increased processing efficiencies and the revenues of the PGMs recovered from the tailings of the chrome facilities.  At current market prices the new contract offers the potential to increase Jubilee’s margin per tonne of chrome concentrate produced by approximately five-fold.

The key term of the new Agreement establishes a 6-year initial partnership that may be renewed for a further 4 years. Under the Agreement, Jubilee is appointed exclusive process solution provider and committed to retrofit and operate an existing 360 000 tonnes per annum chrome processing facility, located adjacent to the chrome ore producer, while holding the option to expand the operation to a 720 000 tonne per annum facility. Jubilee targets to complete the expansion, to 720 000 tonne per annum, within 12 months of commencing operations at the retrofitted facility. The PGM rich tails produced will be processed at the expanded Inyoni facility.

Under the new Agreement Jubilee will process the ROM ore and produce chrome concentrate and a PGM rich tailings. The earnings derived from the sale of the chrome concentrate and PGMs produced from the PGM rich tailings, will be allocated based on the majority of the PGM earnings retained by Jubilee while participating in the chrome earnings at a significant level (equivalent of five times current levels). 

Jubilee has recently completed the initial retrofitting of the 360 000 tonne per annum facility to resemble Jubilee’s existing operations and has commenced commissioning of the facility. The Jubilee projects team expects to reach the initial 360 000 tonne capacity within 12 months, with the combined potential to add a further 390 000 tonnes per annum of chrome concentrate increasing Jubilee’s total potential to 1.4 million tonnes per annum.

Jubilee has continued to roll out power back-up solutions at its chrome operations as a preventative measure to the continued power interruptions in South Africa. The back-up power solution will address 60% of Jubilee’s installed chrome processing capacity by end of June 2023.

Chrome prices remain robust with strong demand from China coupled with constrained supply from South Africa. PGM prices remain under pressure, but the lower PGM basket prices are in part buffered by the buoyant chrome prices.

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