On 20 July, Kumba reported a solid operational performance in the first half of 2023 and announced that it is on track to meet full year production guidance. During the second quarter, the company noted its continued relentless focus on achieving Zero harm, with proactive safety stoppages and further implementation of safety improvement initiatives.

Kumba’s chief executive, Mpumi Zikalala, said: “Iron ore production increased by 6% underpinned by Kolomela’s recovery and improved productivity at both operations. However, multiple disruptions including derailments and cable theft on the Transnet rail line, resulted in ore railed to Saldanha Bay Port decreasing by 3% as at 30 June 2023. With lower finished stock levels at Saldanha Port, sales decreased by 4%.

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She emphasised that the company has revised its 2023 guidance on waste to 195-225Mt and on sales to 36-38Mt to reflect the impact of ongoing rail constraints. “We have maintained our production and unit cost guidance for both mines and reduced the C1 cost guidance to USD43/t to reflect the weaker rand exchange rate. Given the uncertainty faced as a result of the logistics challenges, we have deferred non-critical capital expenditure of R2-billion and revised our guidance down to R9-10-billion for the full year.

“The iron ore and coal mining industry’s ability to continue contributing significantly to the fiscus, sustain employment, and deliver far-reaching socio-economic benefits are inextricably linked to reliable logistics services. An efficient logistics system is fundamental to global trade and South Africa’s weakening economic growth.

“China’s pace of economic growth and steel demand slowed in the second quarter following a strong start to the year, while global economic weakness in key markets outside of China persisted. However, iron ore prices are supported as stock at mills in China are at a five-year low and supply remains tightly balanced. Kumba achieved an average realised price of USD106 per wet metric tonne (wmt) relative to the benchmark price of USD102/wmt. We continued to see good demand for our high-quality iron ore products with 30% of the Anglo American group’s iron ore customers, including that of Kumba (based on sales volumes), covered by partnerships to develop decarbonisation technology.”