File picture: IOL
HARARE - Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s biggest platinum producer, yesterday announced that it would pay shareholders a dividend for the first time in six years after drastically reducing debt and a doubling of earnings in the year to December 2017.

Amplats, which is an 80percent subsidiary of Anglo American, said it adopted the payout ratio driven dividend policy that would pay shareholders 30 percent of headline earnings.

The company said shareholders would get R900 million or R3.49 per share final cash dividend next month. It said it had cut its debt to R1.8bn from R7.3bn in 2016 on the combination of R2.4bn of free cash flow from operations, proceeds from asset sales and the last tranche of a customer prepayment.

Headline earnings surged 108percent to R3.9bn in 2017 from R1.9bn in 2016.

The higher earnings were on the back of operating and overhead cost improvements and a higher dollar basket price, offset by a stronger exchange rate compared to 2016 and measurement of ore stockpiles.

Rene Hochreiter, a mining analyst at Noah Capital Markets said that Amplats had reported a “good” set of results.

“Amplats has beaten consensus by more than doubling headline earnings. The company had managed to improve productivity significantly”, Hochreiter said, adding that they restated their stockpile valuations which helped headline earnings.

The Mogalakwena mine in Limpopo posted record production after improving output by 12percent and cutting unit costs by 15percent, Hochreiter said.