- Amplats says its production is expected to return to pre-Covid-19 levels this year.
- Following the disturbances Covid-19 presented on operations, that were mitigated by commodity prices and a favourable exchange rate, the company said its operations were "well-positioned for a strong recovery".
- Mining companies are reaping the rewards of an upswing in commodity prices and the supply and demand for platinum group metals are forecast to rise in 2021.
Platinum group prices have had added sparkle to Anglo American Platinum's (Amplats) earnings, despite the company being impacted by the temporary closure of its smelting plants during the past year.
The producer, which released its annual financial results for the 2020 financial year on Monday, said the average basket price increased by 51% year-on-year to $2 035 (~R30 000) per platinum group metals (PGM) ounce, compared to $1 347 (~R19 800) in 2019.
Rhodium - a byproduct of platinum and used in catalytic converters to reduce toxic gas emissions in exhaust systems - was a key driver of prices.
CEO Natascha Viljoen noted the role of the precious metals mined by the company in "enabling a low-carbon economy", adding that the company would continue to invest in a wide range of efforts to develop and commercialise new applications for such metals.
Following the disturbances Covid-19 presented on operations, that were mitigated by commodity prices and a. favourable exchange rate, the company said its operations were "well-positioned for a strong recovery after facing significant headwinds in 2020".
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), which is a measure of financial performance, went up 39% from 2019, to R41.6 billion, with a net cash of R18.7 billion recorded for the year.
However, total PGM production declined by 14% year-on-year to 3 808 900 ounces, due to the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Amplats operates the Unki mine in Zimbabwe.
Viljoen said total PGM production is expected to return to pre-Covid-19 levels of between 4.2 and 4.6 million ounces in 2021, with refined production reaching 4.6 to 5 million ounces.
A dividend of R35.35 per share or R9.4 billion was declared.
In 2020, Anglo American Platinum was hit by an intermittent breakdown of its Phase A and Phase B Waterval smelter in Rustenburg, the Anglo Converter Plant (ACP). The disturbance led to a build-up of inventory of around one million PGM ounces and led to a loss of refined sales about R12.8 billion of EBITDA, according to finance director Craig Miller.
"It is expected that this build-up in inventory will be released by the end of 2022," said Miller.
Total refined production, excluding tolling, declined by 42% to 2 713 100 ounces, due to the temporary closure of the ACP. The repair of the ACP Phase A unit was successfully completed by 24 November, and the Phase B unit is undergoing a full rebuild which is scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2021.
"As a result of the ACP process interruptions, there was a build-up of work-in-progress inventory of around one million PGM ounces," the company said.
Amplats and its peers have greatly benefitted from the the current upswing in commodity prices, with the supply and demand for PGMs forecast to rise in 2021 compared to 2020.