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Northam Platinum more than doubles annual earnings

Fuelled by higher metals prices, increased sales revenues and a weaker rand.
Image: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg

South Africa’s Northam Platinum on Friday posted a 150% rise in full-year earnings, fuelled by higher metals prices, increased sales revenues and a weaker rand currency.

The miner reported normalised headline earnings per share (HEPS) of 676.3 cents ($0.39) for the full year ended June from 270.1 cents a year ago.

“Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, this has been a record year for Northam,” the company said in a statement.

Northam did not declare an annual dividend but said it was open to “all options” for returning value to shareholders. It has in the past opted to buy preference shares in its Zambezi Platinum unit as an alternative to dividend payments.

“We remain single-minded in our commitment to returning value to shareholders, and will continue to do so, despite the current turmoil,” Chief Executive Paul Dunne said.

The company acquired 3.7 billion worth of Zambezi shares in the reporting period, and 1.7 billion subsequently.

Shares in Northam rose 3% at market open, but have given back some of their gains to be up 2% by 1018 GMT.

Sales revenue in the full year rose 67% to a record R17.8 billion, with the PGM basket price increasing 61% and an 11% weaker rand/dollar exchange rate, Northam said.

Overall metal output however dropped to 515,370 ounces, from 519,954 ounces a year earlier, due to Covid-19 related disruptions.

The company pegged the direct cost of the pandemic at R1 billion, with a loss of 108,685 ounces during the period.

Mining companies in South Africa, which were forced to temporally close in March, have been anxious about managing the Covid-19 crisis and preventing outbreaks at mine sites where workers are in close quarters and confined spaces.

Total group capital expenditure during the year fell to R2.4 billion as the company cut back on planned growth projects to manage liquidity during the pandemic.

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