030912 African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) President Patrice Motsepe speaking at the company results that was held in Sandton Johannesburg.photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi 3

Diversified mining firm African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) posted a slight increase in full-year earnings yesterday, boosted by higher sales across most of the company’s commodities, but said the outlook remained challenging.

ARM, which has interests in nickel, coal, platinum, iron ore, chrome and manganese, said headline earnings a share for the year to June increased to R16.15, a 2 percent jump from R15.85. Company sales rose 18 percent to R17.53 billion.

The company said that its Lubambe copper project in Zambia was progressing on time and within budget, with the commissioning of the plant expected by the end of the current financial year.

An expansion project to lift production at its Khumani iron ore mine in South Africa was completed ahead of schedule and below budget.

The company said demand for commodities was expected to remain challenging in the year ahead on the back of a subdued global growth outlook.

“Demand fundamentals in the platinum group metals, nickel and chrome markets are expected to remain subdued in the short term due to uncertainty in the developed markets and oversupply,” ARM said, but the long-term outlook for those commodities was positive.

Total iron ore sales would increase from 14.8 million tons in the year to June to 16 million tons in the 2013 financial year, executive chairman Patrice Motsepe said.

ARM said it had a strong cash position and would continue to look at acquisition opportunities. The mining company declared an annual dividend of R4.75 a share.

The shares, which are down 14 percent so far this year, dropped 2.04 percent to close at R144 on the JSE yesterday.