A year of two halves for Implats

The year 2008 could only be characterised as a year of two halves, Impala Platinum said on Thursday as it presented its interim results.

The first half of the year had been ”dominated by supply concerns, driven in part by the Eskom crisis”, it said.

The second half was ”victim of the credit crisis and massive deleveraging of commodities by consumers and hedge funds”.

For the six months to December 31, the group reported a 13% rise in net profit.

The miner said that revenue for the period dropped to R16,24-billion from R16,32-billion as a result of a dip in sales volumes, while gross platinum production was about 15% lower at 878 000 ounces.

Impala — the world’s second largest producer of platinum — said that with world economies and their financial systems ”still on life support”, it was increasingly difficult to forecast the outcome for 2009.

”Suffice to say we do not expect any major recovery in automotive demand.

”In this environment, and with reduced metal availability from South Africa, Russia and perhaps more significantly the recycle market [both automotive and jewellery], we expect the market to register a small surplus for 2009,” the company said.

However, the present dire economic climate belied the ”more positive fundamentals for platinum group metals that the company has often articulated”.

Yet, Impala said, the confidence needed to restore the health of the market ”may prove elusive during the bulk of the year”. — Sapa

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