Kumba Iron Ore's Kolomela mine, near Postmasburg in the Northern Cape. Picture: SUPPLIED
Kumba Iron Ore's Kolomela mine, near Postmasburg in the Northern Cape. Picture: SUPPLIED

Kumba Iron Ore’s first-quarter sales were largely unchanged from a year earlier, with a good performance at the Kolomela mine offsetting lower output from the flagship Sishen mine.

Kumba, the JSE-listed subsidiary of Anglo American, noted a 4% increase in group production, driven entirely by a 26% increase at Kolomela, which supplied 3.5-million tonnes of iron ore during the first three months of the year.

Total sales for the quarter were 1% lower at 10.83-million tonnes, with domestic sales up by 6% to 885,000 tonnes.

A derailment on the railway line from Sishen to the Saldanha port cut sales by 1.1-million tonnes.

“Kumba is working closely with Transnet to mitigate derailments and currently expects to meet full-year guidance with total sales of 44-million to 45-million tonnes,” Kumba said, adding it had stockpiles of 4.6-million tonnes, which was 300,000 tonnes higher than at the end of 2017.

Sishen’s output was down 5% to 7.3-million tonnes compared with the same quarter a year earlier. The reason for the lower production was reduced output from the dense media separation plant, due to short-term mining feedstock constraints.

Kumba has set Sishen’s full-year production target at between 30-million and 31-million tonnes. To reach that output, the mine will have to mine up to 180-million tonnes of waste rock.

Kolomela’s full-year production was set at 14-million tonnes and the mine will have to shift up to 57-million tonnes of waste this year.