Merafe Resources CEO Zanele Matlala. Picture: MARTIN RHODES
Merafe Resources CEO Zanele Matlala. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

Ferrochrome production at Merafe’s chrome smelting joint venture with Glencore declined by 7% in the March quarter, Merafe reported on Friday.

The fall in production compared to the same quarter of 2017 was ascribed to downtime for additional maintenance at the Lion and Rustenburg ferrochrome plants.

Merafe is a 20.5% shareholder in the venture. Glencore holds the rest.

In March Merafe reported that its share of the revenue from the joint venture had come to a record R5.889bn, a 3% rise from the previous year.

The revenue increase was driven primarily by a higher price for ferrochrome.

Merafe reported an annual profit of R914m in 2017 compared with R532m the year before.

However, Business Day reported that shareholders, who had wanted a bigger share of the profits, had grilled Merafe over its "lazy" balance sheet, even though it paid a record dividend for 2017.

Merafe reported net cash of R600m by the end of December from net debt of R409m at the end of the previous year.

A final dividend of 9c per share was declared, bringing its total dividend payment to a record 12c per share, equivalent to R301m against R120m a year earlier.