Strike-hit Amplats reports R6.3bn loss

Anglo American Platinum's sales for 2012 have plunged due to the two-month long illegal strike during the second half of the year. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Anglo American Platinum's sales for 2012 have plunged due to the two-month long illegal strike during the second half of the year. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

"Operationally, 2012 was a challenging year for Anglo American Platinum[Amplats] and the platinum industry as a whole," Amplats chief executive Chris Griffith said in a statement on Monday.

Headline earnings per ordinary share decreased year-on-year to a loss of R5.62 in 2012, from a profit of R13.65 in 2011.

"This was primarily due to lower sales volumes, the impact of higher mining inflation on costs and lower realised metal prices," said Griffith.

Illegal strikes last year, inflation, and market conditions in Europe affected the company. Headline earnings per ordinary share exclude a loss of R463-million resulting from the revaluation of certain investments, as well as the write-down of various other projects and assets, considered uneconomical in the current environment, to the value of R6.6-billion (after-tax R4.8-billion).

Platinum sales volumes for the period were lower, primarily due to the two-month long illegal strike during the second half of 2012.

Loss of 305 600 ounces of platinum production
Anglo American Platinum, together with its share of joint venture and associate production, lost 305 600 ounces of equivalent refined platinum production.

The company reported an 8% decrease in equivalent refined platinum production year-on-year, to 2.22-million ounces, mainly due to the illegal strikes.

In line with the decline in operating profit, operating free cash-flow decreased by R10.13-billion compared with 2011, to a net out-flow of R717-million.

Net debt increased 186% to R10.49-billion from R3.66-billion at the end of December 2011.

As a result, gearing increased from 11% in 2011 to 25% at the end of December 2012.

Owing to this increase in net debt, the future funding requirements and uncertain global economy, the board resolved not to declare a final dividend.

Seven people died in accidents at the company in the reporting period.

'Demand is expected to grow'
Griffith said: "If South African platinum production returned to pre-strike levels, then the market would be oversupplied. Overall, gross platinum demand is expected to grow marginally in 2013, despite the lack of economic growth in the European market."

Amplats announced the recommendations of its portfolio review on January 15.
The key recommendation was to reduce the company's production target to between 2.1-million and 2.3-million ounces per annum to more closely-align output with expected demand, while retaining the flexibility to meet potential demand upside.

This would be achieved through placing the Khuseleka and Khomanani mines on long-term care and maintenance, and by consolidating Rustenburg into three operating mines.

There was an outcry earlier this year when it became clear that up to 14 000 jobs could be lost.

Production at Rustenburg mines would reduce to a sustainable level of 320 000 to 350 000 ounces per year.

Consultation with the government
"While we plan to keep our production profile flat, we would replace production from high-cost assets with production from low-cost, high-quality assets over the next decade," Griffith said.

The proposed portfolio review recommendations required consultation with the government, organised labour and others, prior to implementation.

On January 28 the company, along with the mineral resources department and trade unions, decided to postpone retrenchment process under the Labour Relations Act, which had started earlier that month. This was to allow talks to take place.

The parties agreed the consultations would take no more than 60 days starting on January 30. – Sapa

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