Pan African Resources PLC Financial Director Deon Louw. Picture: Itumeleng English
Pan African Resources PLC Financial Director Deon Louw. Picture: Itumeleng English

Pan African puts debt repayments before dividends

By Dineo Faku Time of article published Mar 5, 2021

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Pan African Resources said yesterday it had chosen to prioritise repaying its debt over declaring an interim dividend during the six months to the end of December last year.

Debt was reduced by 47.3 percent to $65.2 million (about R951m) in December as the group pushed to strengthen its capital structure.

Chief executive Cobus Loots said given the record rand dividend payment last year, the group wanted to strike a balance between debt reduction and a dividend. “At the R900 000-a-kilogram gold price, the group should be debt-free by the end of the financial year,” said Loots

Pan African declared a record rand dividend for the June 2020 financial year that was paid in December last year. Shareholders were rewarded with a dividend of $17.8m, up from $2.9m in 2019. “Pan African has a track record of being a leading dividend payer. We are hoping to get back there soon,” said Loots.

Profit after taxation jumped by 86.3 percent to $40.8m, up from $21.9m a year earlier, while revenue increased by 38.4 percent to $183.8m, compared with $132.8m in 2019.

However, hedging losses amounted to $6.7m, which contributed to the 12.5 percent increase in the all-in-sustaining cost to $1 252 an ounce.

“Post the current reporting period, the group is unhedged,” said Loots.

Net cash generated by operating activities increased by a whopping 178.2 percent to $28.1m, from $10.1m in 2019. Production costs spiked by 13.5 percent to $98.2m, with salaries and wages, which represent 25.8 percent of the total cost of production increasing by 6.3 percent to $25.4m.

The group was on track to deliver its production target of 190 000 ounces by the end of the June 2021 financial year, as output during the six months to the end of December jumped 5.9 percent to 98 386 ounces, driven by a strong operational performance at Barberton Mines in Mpumalanga.

Loots said Barberton Mines' underground production increased by 15.3 percent to 42 350 ounces, from 36 737 ounces in 2019. The continued extraction of the high-grade section at New Consort's Prince Consort Shaft Level 42 also added to the upside at Barberton Mines.

“Barberton Mines deserves recognition for a robust operational performance, with gold production of 52 354 ounces for the six months ended December 31, 2020, demonstrating the excellent progress at this flagship operation in reserve development and infrastructure optimisation,” he said.

However, gold production at Elikhulu decreased by 8.3 percent to 26 863 ounces due to lower recoveries and constrained plant throughput.

“Production is expected to improve during the second half of the 2021 financial year,” said Loots.

Pan African expects to produce 190 000 ounces of gold for the financial year to the end of June 2021, which is a substantial increase compared with actual production of 179 457 ounces in the 2020 financial year.

“We are committed to continuing to create value for our stakeholders by positioning Pan African as a sustainable, safe, high-margin and long-life gold producer,” said Loots. Pan African shares closed 5.37 percent lower at R4.23 on the JSE yesterday.

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