* Maintains 2011 production target of 2.6 mln ounces
* Safety stoppages behind Q1 fall in output
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By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, April 21 (Reuters) - Anglo Platinum (AMSJ.J), the world’s No. 1 producer of the precious metal, kept its full-year production target on Thursday despite a 5 percent fall in first-quarter output attributed to safety stoppages.
Anglo Platinum, majority-owned by Anglo American Plc (AAL.L), said equivalent refined platinum output was 568,000 ounces in the quarter to the end of March, a fall of 5 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010.
But it stuck to its year production target, saying it “remains confident of refining and selling 2.6 million ounces in 2011. Action plans are being implemented to make up the lost production from underground.”
Analysts said this looked realistic.
“I think it is possible, demand will always pick up,” said Abri du Plessis, chief investment officer at Gryphon Asset Management.
Pieter Louw, executive head of mining operations, said this could be done in a number of ways.
“We look at where we can get additional production. We can turn to our open-pit mine for example, we can optimise production there better,” he told Reuters in a phone interview.
The company’s Mogalakwena Mine is the largest open-pit platinum mine in the world.
Louw said the company was still committed to reaching a “zero harm” target but it had four fatalaties in the quarter which is higher than usual.
The Department of Mineral Resources says overall mineworker deaths have risen over 25 percent in the first quarter of this year to 38, compared to the same period last year.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has threatened to shut the sector down for a day to protest a rise in mining deaths. [nLDE73E06J]
The company said it would strive to keep costs below 12,000 rand per ounce but noted the strong rand was a counterbalance to rising platinum prices. The rand ZAR= has gained about 7.2 percent against the dollar since the middle of February.
In the first quarter cash operating costs per equivalent refined platinum ounce were up nine percent compared to the previous year at 12,728 rand.
Spot platinum XPT= was up 0.67 percent at $1,803.24 an ounce at 0627 GMT. Platinum has been on the rebound since it sank 8 percent in the days that followed the massive earthquake and tsunami which struck Japan on March 11.
Refined platinum production was 533,000 ounces, an improvement of 19 percent over the first quarter of 2010. (Additional reporting by Ruona Agbroko; editing by James Jukwey)