Mining company Anglo American Platinum. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)
Mining company Anglo American Platinum. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

Rare metal bonanza benefits Amplats shareholders

By Dineo Faku Time of article published Jul 28, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) put a R2.8 billion interim dividend, or R10.23 a share, back in its shareholders’ pockets during the six months ended June, helped by strong metal prices despite lower earnings following the national Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and operational headwinds.

The Platinum Group Metals (PGM) rand basket price jumped 80percent to R32166 an ounce from R17901 a year earlier and 56percent in dollar terms to $1956 (R32524) an ounce from $1255 an ounce during the same period last year thanks to strong rhodium and palladium prices.

The price of rhodium, a rare silvery-white metal, closed June at $8000 per ounce, 139 percent higher than $3350 an ounce a year earlier.

Rhodium reached a record high of nearly $14 000 an ounce in March, amid a market deficit and strong automotive demand.

The price of palladium, also a rare metal, was firm, ending the half at $1905 per ounce, 25percent higher year-on-year. However, platinum did not share in the price gains of other PGMs. Chief financial officer Craig Miller said rhodium had contributed materially to group revenue.

The group’s financial performance was, however, affected by the temporary closure of the Anglo Converter Plant (ACP) following an explosion and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earnings before interest, taxation depreciation and amortisation went up to R13.1bn, an increase of 6percent over the R12.4bn compared with the first half of 2019.

Chief executive Natascha Viljoen said the business had faced significant headwinds in the first six months of the year, with the impact of Covid-19 on its operations and the temporary shutdown of the ACP following a force majeure incident. The ACP was temporarily shut following an explosion in February.

The group recorded a 25 percent decline in output year-on-year to 1.6 million PGM ounces after the shutdown of operations in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Amplats shares closed 1.46percent higher at R1454.03 on the JSE yesterday.


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