Amplats profit falls as COVID-19 shutdowns weigh, sees H2 output recovery

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Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) posted a 7% fall in half-year profit on lower output due to shutdowns caused by COVID-19 and cautioned that further closures and power outages could put its full-year guidance at risk.

Shares in one of the world’s biggest platinum producers, which have soared since mid-March, fell almost 4% before recovering to trade flat on the day as Amplats said it expects production to improve in the second half and declared an interim dividend.

Headline earnings per share, the main profit used in South Africa, for the six months to June 30 fell to R26.27 per share compared with R28.15 a year earlier.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) rose 6% to R13.1 billion, driven by sharply higher metals prices.

Amplats said it expects output to improve in the second half despite a 25% decline in year-on-year in platinum group metals (PGM) production to 1.6 million ounces due to shutdowns in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Refined PGM production fell 49% due to power cuts and repairs at its ACP processing facilities 141 kms (88 miles) from Johannesburg after a blast forced it to declare force majeure.

“We expect to see a stronger production performance in H2 2020, but caution that significant headwinds still exist,” said Amplats CEO Natascha Viljoen.

Viljoen, who was appointed CEO in April, said output capacity levels were around 80% by the end of June and expected to increase to 95% by the end of the year.

Amplats said the possibility of further COVID-19 shutdowns, repairs at its plant and power outages could impact its ability to meet year end guidance of 3.1 to 3.6 million PGM ounces.

Mining companies in South Africa are anxious about managing COVID-19 and preventing outbreaks at mine sites where workers are in close quarters and confined spaces.

Viljoen said Amplats expected platinum, rhodium and palladium to be in deficit in the global market for the remainder of 2020 but expected platinum, the majority f which is mined in South Africa, to return to a surplus in 2021 as supply recovers.