Implats harnessed the benefit of improved operational momentum and record rand pricing for its primary products to deliver stellar results for the year ended 30 June 2021 (the period). This was achieved despite the challenges presented by Covid-19 and the erratic provision of essential services required to operate the Group’s globally diverse suite of mining and processing assets.
This performance is testament to the progress made in the strategic repositioning of Implats over the past several years, which has enabled the Group to leverage the windfall on pricing to strengthen the business, care for employees, reward investors and secure the future growth and sustainability of the business.
Safe production is non-negotiable. Ensuring the safety of employees and contract workers is essential to delivering on Implats’ commitment to zero harm.
Implats delivered an improved safety performance. Despite this, regrettably, three employee fatalities were recorded at managed operations in the period under review: in memorial Kudzanai Manyonganise at Zimplats’ Ngwarati Mine, Dan Shongwe at Marula’s Clapham Shaft and Bulelani Tshisa at Impala Rustenburg’s 16 Shaft. Post-year-end, 16 Shaft recorded another fatality when Isaiah Molale passed away in early August 2021. The board of directors and management team extended their sincere condolences to the families and friends of our four colleagues. Implats offers ongoing support to their families in recognition of the impact of their loss. Thorough investigations took place in each case to identify the causes of the incidents and to share lessons learned and remedial actions across the Group and industry.
The focus on visible leadership, mining discipline and targeted safety interventions saw all safety metrics improving, other than the lost-time injury frequency rate, which deteriorated by 8% to 4.92 per million man-hours worked (FY2020: 4.54). The fatal injury frequency rate, while not zero, improved to 0.026 per million man-hours worked (FY2020: 0.050) with three fatalities reported in the period (FY2020: five). The total injury-frequency rate improved 13% to 9.84 per million man-hours worked (FY2020: 11.30). Of note, Impala Rustenburg achieved a fatality-free 12-month period and more than 10 million fatality-free shifts during the period, a record for the mining complex. By year-end, 13 of the Group’s 17 operations had achieved millionaire or multi-millionaire status in terms of fatality-free shifts.
Implats’ strategic priorities are centred on six focus areas where targeted actions and aspirations create a better future for our diverse stakeholders and deliver superior economic performance through the metals produced and the way the Group conducts business.
At Implats, the aspiration is to become an industry-leader in environmental, social and governance (ESG), producing metals that sustain livelihoods beyond mining and create a better future. The Group’s achievements in responsible stewardship were anchored by a sound environmental performance. The Group’s commitment to superior ESG practices is recognised in several rankings by leading global and regional agencies. Implats is proud to have achieved an “A” rating by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) for the second consecutive year, for disclosures, awareness and management of water security risk. In addition, the Group again achieved a “B” rating for its climate change action and disclosures. Implats’ commitment to gender equality was underscored by its inclusion in the Bloomberg 2021 Gender-Equality Index, one of only 380 companies globally. Implats is rated “BBB” by MSCI, indicating strong resilience to long-term ESG risks.
Implats remains a constituent of the FTSE4Good Index Series, supported by improved disclosure and the progressive decline in fatalities over the past several years, and is also a constituent of the FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Top 30 Index. The Group’s refining assets hold the London Platinum and Palladium Market certificate for Responsible Platinum and Palladium Sourcing.
The Group continues to play an industry-leading role in the management and mitigation of Covid-19, maintaining protocols to protect its employees and implementing an active vaccination programme to serve both employees and the communities in which it operates.
Implats generates superior value for all stakeholders through modern, safe, responsible, competitive and consistent operational delivery. The Group delivered meaningful progress in achieving operational excellence, with its improved safety performance and an industry-leading recovery in underlying mined volumes following Covid-19-related production interruptions. At Impala Rustenburg, investment in mining flexibility and asset integrity resulted in a 24% increase in development metres and an 11% improvement in mineable face length, with a record 12-month fatality-free performance despite the increased labour complement. At Zimplats, consistent results, despite a series of challenges, are testament to the operational resilience entrenched at the operation. At Marula, the tailings storage facility project was well advanced, and a number of new technologies are being trialled to ensure increased productivity and efficiencies. Impala Canada delivered a 20% increase in underground volumes, despite Covid-19-related labour constraints.
Implats places people at the centre of the organisation and engenders a shared culture founded on its values to respect, care and deliver. Organisational effectiveness was advanced through enhanced stakeholder engagement, with organisational structures aligned to support Group strategy. The technical capacity of the Group was strengthened through new appointments and the organisational culture was enhanced and advanced through targeted programmes.
Value creation is pursued through sustaining and leveraging a strong and flexible balance sheet within a prudent capital allocation framework. Significant progress was achieved in delivering an optimal capital structure through accelerated debt reduction and the refinancing and upsizing of debt facilities. Targeted corporate action — including the cancellation of treasury shares, an odd-lot offer and the cumulative benefit of a tender offer and on-market purchases of the ZAR convertible bonds — delivered enhanced shareholder returns. During the period, 70% of generated free cash flow was allocated to shareholder returns, 47% through cash dividends and a further 23% through the repurchase of circa 50% of the ZAR convertible bonds and odd-lot shares. The use of cash to reduce debt resulted in Implats ending the period debt free, with a substantial increase in cash balances and balance sheet headroom.
The Group seeks to leverage, strengthen and grow its diverse asset base through operational exposure to shallow, mechanisable orebodies to increase the competitiveness of the asset portfolio. During the period, Implats announced expansion projects at Zimplats and joint venture (JV) operation Two Rivers. These capital-efficient and quick-to-market brownfield expansions at the Group’s lowest-cost operations will deliver 260 000 6E ounces or an additional circa 9% of mine-to-market production growth. Life-of-mine extensions were delivered through expanded reserve positions across the portfolio in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Canada and, during the period, the Group embarked on a series of studies aimed at delivering efficiency improvements and expansions to its processing capacity. The ability to process and market Implats’ expanding production base remains a core competitive advantage, which will be leveraged for additional future benefit.
Implats is future-focused and sustains and grows value by supporting present and future demand drivers, creating strong customer relationships and aligning production to evolving demand. During the period, the Group announced its participation in AP Ventures, a private-equity vehicle which supports Implats’ market development activities into key evolving end-uses for PGMs, including hydrogen, fuel cell mobility and energy storage. The Group continues to support research that seeks to balance the use of its primary products in autocatalysts and plays a leading role in industry bodies supporting the physical investment and jewellery markets. Collaboration with industry partners and peers has been deepened to leverage the relationships to enhance future value creation.
Implats is committed to demonstrating socially and environmentally responsible business practices and aspires to create a better future through the metals it produces and the way it conducts business, underpinned by its core values to respect, care and deliver. The Group prioritises safe, responsible, competitive and consistent operational delivery, while applying industry-leading ESG practices.
Health and wellbeing
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic impacted institutional and targeted responses to ensure effective control of occupational health risks and to promote employee wellbeing and optimal levels of health. During the period the Group strengthened its Covid-19 approach through operational risk management tools, including communication on behaviour change, self-monitoring and reporting, reducing employee density and promoting social distancing, fever screening, personal protective equipment (PPE), case detection, contact tracing and vaccination.
This proactive approach to Covid-19 prevention and treatment ensured sustained control, with infection and mortality rates remaining significantly below the average rates in the jurisdictions in which the Group operates. Regrettably, however, at the end of the reporting period 46 employees had succumbed to the virus since the onset of the pandemic, 42 of whom were in the period under review.
The Group’s leadership in responding to the pandemic was commended by external parties such as the Minerals Council of South Africa and the South African Department of Health. Impala Rustenburg was the first mining company approved to provide Covid-19 vaccinations in South Africa and has supported the government’s vaccination efforts. Implats is actively working closely with all role players in rolling out Covid-19 vaccines to its employees and surrounding communities. Impala Canada was the first mine in Ontario, Canada to host a vaccination clinic for healthcare staff and Zimplats received a national award for Covid-19-pandemic support in communities. Currently, 61% of employees have received their first vaccination, while 26% are fully vaccinated across both managed and joint venture operations. In Zimbabwe and Canada, 98% and 85%, respectively, are fully vaccinated.
The Group spent R563 million on Covid-19 initiatives during the period, of which R191 million was spent on medical preparedness. All operations continue to focus on supporting the mental wellbeing of their healthcare workers, employees and their dependants during this challenging time. As the pandemic unfolds, Implats continues to strengthen its approach, informed by learnings across its diverse operations and evolving global best practice.
Good progress was made on targeted interventions to reduce the main occupational and non-occupational health risks facing employees. There were no new cases of noise-induced hearing loss, as measured against new industry criteria. Pulmonary TB and HIV levels were well controlled, with pulmonary TB cases among employees decreasing by 2% to 90 (FY2020: 92). At the South African operations, the annualised TB incidence rate of 196 per 100 000 employees remains well below the estimated national average of 360 per 100 000 citizens. The Group’s estimated HIV prevalence rate has remained level at 23%, based on available data for Impala Rustenburg. Adherence to HIV treatment has remained consistently excellent at 95%. Implats’ aim is to increase uptake of anti-retroviral treatment to eliminate Aids-related deaths among in-service employees by 2025.
For the eighth consecutive year, Implats recorded no major (level 5) or significant (level 4) environmental incidents. It achieved a 56% reduction in limitedimpact (level 3) environmental incidents to seven (FY2020: 16).
The Group continues to drive performance improvements through its certified environmental management systems for which it retained ISO14001: 2015 certification at Zimplats, Impala Springs, Marula and Impala Rustenburg. Impala Canada made steady progress towards achieving ISO 14001 certification. Impala Springs also holds ISO 9001 certification and Impala Refining Services retained its Responsible Care® status.
Water access is a basic human right, a vital operational resource and an imperative for the socio-economic development of mine-host communities. Water management is a critical concern as Implats’ southern African sites are in water-scarce areas – assured security of water supply in South Africa (Bojanala and Rustenburg) and for the Zimplats operations is among the Group’s top risks.
The Group’s consumption of recycled and reused water improved to 51%, exceeding the 44% target, aided by higher recoveries at the southern African operations. For FY2021, total water consumption increased by 18% to 50 671Ml due to increased production.
Implats is finalising a revised Group water policy to guide a uniform approach to water across operations and will conduct climate-regional vulnerability and site-specific risk assessments to inform water balances and contingency plans. The Group is developing a strategy to secure brown water sources and reduce freshwater intake by employing innovative water-saving technologies.
A low-carbon transition strategy is in development to guide decarbonisation efforts, strengthen energy security and to position the Group in the new energy value chain. During the period, South African power utility Eskom struggled to meet national demand, resulting in an unprecedented levels of load shedding and curtailment calls. Group carbon emission intensity improved by 6% to 0.175 CO2 per tonne milled (FY2020: 0.186 CO2 per tonne milled). Total energy consumption during FY2021 increased by 17%, driven by an increase in diesel and electricity usage at Impala Rustenburg as production ramped up. As a result, the Group’s carbon footprint increased by 11% for the period. Zimplats and Impala Canada are largely supplied from hydropower schemes and have the lowest carbon footprints across Implats. In line with the Group’s energy strategy, Zimplats is exploring a large-scale solar power project to further ensure security of supply. In South Africa, a new energy policy will provide a similar opportunity to augment energy supply in the future and further support the Group’s decarbonisation efforts.
Safe and best-practice management of Group tailings storage facilities (TSF) is a critical imperative and Implats supports the Global Industry Tailings Management Standard (GITMS). During the period, Implats conducted an assessment across all operations, including associates, against the 77 requirements of the GITMS. Overall operational compliance to the GITMS is good, exceeding expectations on some requirements. Each operation is implementing a roadmap to ensure continuous improvement and a Group tailings geotechnical engineer was appointed to oversee compliance. Re-mining of tailings at Impala Rustenburg’s dormant TSFs has progressed well and the construction of the replacement TSF at Marula was concluded.
Constructive and beneficial relationships in mine-host communities and sustainable socio-economic development remain priorities, particularly given the adverse conditions within many of the Group’s mine-host communities due to high youth unemployment, compounded by the economic impacts of Covid-19.
In South Africa, the Group spent R126 million on community development initiatives and a further R212 million on the Group’s industry-leading housing development. R3.5 billion was spent with local-tiered suppliers with >25% black ownership and US$239 million (or 56% of discretionary spend) was spent with local suppliers in Zimbabwe. In Canada, supplies to the value of C$39 million were procured from indigenous communities in the areas of the mine’s operations.
In South Africa, nine social and labour plan projects worth R94 million were handed over.
During the period, the Group donated R46 million to disaster relief efforts in South Africa, including a R16 million donation to NGO, Gift of the Givers Foundation to provide food, PPE, water and hygiene relief effort in Implats’ South African mine-host communities and labour-sending areas.
Stakeholder engagement efforts through established formal community engagement structures at Impala Rustenburg and Marula were intensified during the period to improve relations with host communities. Zimplats continues to enjoy cordial relations with its communities. Impala Canada continues to develop strong relationships with host indigenous communities and has secured benefit agreements with two communities.
GROUP OPERATIONAL REVIEW
Tonnes milled from the Group’s managed operations at Impala Rustenburg, Zimplats, Marula and Impala Canada increased by 19% to 23.21 million tonnes (FY2020: 19.58 million tonnes). Each operation delivered volume gains and the Group benefited from a full annual contribution from Impala Canada, which was acquired in December 2019. Unit costs at managed operations were impacted by a 19% increase in production volumes following the inclusion of Impala Canada, inflationary pressures compounded by targeted spend on development to improve mining flexibility and asset integrity at Impala Rustenburg and Covid-19-related expenditure across the operations.
As a result, the unit cost per tonne milled at managed operations increased by 12% to R1 301 per tonne (FY2020: R1 166 per tonne) with 46% of volumes generated by fully mechanised operations.
6E concentrate production from mine-to-market operations, including the JVs at Two Rivers and Mimosa, increased by 16% to 2.93 million ounces (FY2020: 2.52 million ounces), as production from managed operations improved 18% to 2.37 million ounces (FY2020: 2.01 million ounces). In the prior comparable period, total 6E production losses of 248 000 ounces in concentrate were directly attributed to the impact of Covid-19 on mine-to-market operations (213 000 ounces at managed operations).
Third-party 6E concentrate receipts increased by 9% to 358 000 ounces (FY2020: 327 000 ounces). In aggregate, total 6E concentrate production of 3.29 million ounces increased by 16% (FY2020: 2.85 million ounces).
Group refined 6E production of 3.27 million ounces increased by 16% (including saleable production from Impala Canada) from 2.81 million ounces in the prior comparable period. On a stock-adjusted basis, unit costs increased by 11% to R14 840 per 6E ounce, with Covid-19-related expenditure amounting to R563 million or R240 per 6E ounce.
Capital expenditure increased by 43% to R6.4 billion (FY2020: R4.5 billion). While capital expenditure in the prior comparable period was impacted by reduced capital development and limited project progression during the various national Covid-19 lockdowns, FY2021 reflected the impact of the inclusion of Impala Canada for the full reporting period, and accelerated spend at Zimplats following the early approval of the expansion projects at Mupani and Bimha and the ongoing spend on the Mupani and third concentrator projects.
Group smelting and refining operations were adversely impacted by increased load shedding by power utility Eskom and Covid-19-related delays in scheduled maintenance at processing facilities in the second half of the period. This resulted in a closing position of excess 6E concentrate stocks of circa 80 000 ounces at year-end, which are expected to be refined by the end of FY2022.
Impala remains focused on securing a lower-cost and sustainable mining operation through a focus on safety, operational excellence, resilience and flexibility and constructive and collaborative relationships with stakeholders. The business delivered well against these goals in FY2021, with an industry-leading safety performance, an improved mining performance and the progression of studies for several potential life-of-mine extensions.
This was achieved despite the need to navigate an increasingly complex and challenging social environment due to evolving labour dynamics in the region and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Constraints on operations from increased Covid-19-related labour absenteeism were anticipated and mitigated by adopting a strategy carrying an increased labour complement (circa 11% at year-end, including contractors). This ensured the planned mining and development targets were achieved, with development metres increasing by 24% to 102 735 metres and an 11% improvement in mineable face length to 25.4km. These targets were reached despite the final closure of 9 Shaft, which reached the end of its life in the period, and reflects the success of interventions to address development, construction and equipping of workplaces across the Rustenburg operations.
Milled throughput for the period rose by 11% to 10.69 million tonnes (FY2020: 9.64 million tonnes), while the 6E milled head grade improved by 4% to 4.05g/t (FY2020: 3.91g/t) as a result of reduced off-reef mining on the Merensky horizon and the partial completion of the 16 Shaft orepass rehabilitation, which allowed for the separation of waste from reef. Concentrator recoveries of mined and tailing tonnages improved and 6E concentrate production increased by 16% to 1.29 million ounces (FY2020: 1.11 million ounces), while stock-adjusted 6E production increased by 18% to 1.31 million ounces (FY2020: 1.12 million ounces). In FY2020, the impact of Covid-19 accounted for total production losses of 151 000 ounces 6E in concentrate.
Refined volumes in the prior comparable period benefited from a revised stock allocation policy between Impala Refining Services (IRS) and Impala Rustenburg. As a result, refined 6E volumes of 1.33 million ounces in the period under review increased by 5% (FY2020: 1.27 million ounces).
Total cash costs, including corporate and marketing spend, increased by 31% to R21.9 billion from R16.8 billion in the prior comparable period when R998 million in abnormal production costs incurred during the national lockdown were included in the cost of sales, but excluded from the calculation of cash and unit costs.
Costs were negatively affected by above-CPI increases on utilities and labour. Covid-19-related expenditure amounted to R369 million (R282 per 6E ounce). On a stock-adjusted basis, units costs increased by 11% to R16 729 per 6E ounce (FY2020: R15 021 per 6E ounce).
Capital expenditure increased by 41% to R2.5 billion (FY2020: R1.8 billion). Replacement capital of R246 million declined by 26% (FY2020: R331 million) as projects at 11, 14 and 20 shafts reached completion. An additional R811 million was incurred on stay-inbusiness capital, with total spend of R2.2 billion (FY2020: R1.4 billion) rising by 57% and reflecting higher operating rates across the mining complex, increased expenditure on capital development, infrastructure integrity projects, the tailings retreatment project, scheduled furnace rebuilds and tailings dam lifecycle extensions. Of this, R224 million was invested in Group smelting and refining assets.
Impala delivered R16.8 billion in free cash flow, a 99% increase from the prior comparable period as higher rand PGM pricing and the sales mix offset the impact of a 2% decline in sales volumes of 1.23 million 6E ounces (FY2020: 1.25 million 6E ounces).
Impala made a gross profit of R25.2 billion (FY2020: R8.9 billion) and contributed R17.3 billion to Group headline earnings (FY2020: R6.5 billion).
Impala Refining Services (IRS)
6E receipts in matte and concentrate from mine-to-market operations increased by 14% to 1.38 million ounces (FY2020: 1.21 million ounces) reflecting a recovery from a series of operational constraints in the prior comparable period including: processing challenges at Mimosa and Two Rivers, a temporary increase in smelter inventory at Zimplats, and reduced operating rates at South African operations due to the declaration of force majeure during the initial Covid-19 lockdown. 6E receipts from third-party customers increased by 9% to 358 000 ounces (FY2020: 327 000 ounces), comprising 21% of gross receipts of 1.74 million ounces (FY2020: 1.54 million ounces).
Reported operational and financial metrics for IRS in the prior comparable period were impacted by the reallocation of stocks between IRS and Impala Rustenburg, which led to an increase in working capital. Consequently, despite being impacted by constrained Group processing capacity in H2 FY2021, refined 6E volumes increased by 17% to 1.69 million ounces (FY2020: 1.45 million ounces). Sales volumes increased by 25% to 1.81 million 6E ounces with a draw-down in rhodium, iridium and ruthenium inventory to take advantage of strong pricing for these metals.
The cash operating costs associated with smelting, refining and marketing IRS production increased by 21% to R1.8 billion (FY2020: R1.5 billion). Concentrate purchase agreements at IRS are dominated by ore feeds from Great Dyke and UG2 sources and rising minor PGM and base metal pricing, together with higher purchased volumes, resulted in the cost of metals purchased increasing by 66% to R63.3 billion (FY2020: R38.2 billion).
IRS reported a gross profit of R9.5 billion (FY2020: R6.0 billion) and contributed R7.1 billion (FY2020: R4.3 billion) to Group headline earnings.
Free cash flow of R9.0 billion (FY2020: R116 million cash outflow) benefited from higher pricing and sales volumes and low contractual payments processed in Q1 which resulted in a positive working capital movement for FY2021.
Marula faced several operating challenges during the period. Covid-19 constrained the availability of supervisory management and affected labour productivity due to necessary changes in shift patterns. This was compounded by community disruptions related to regional service delivery and the fatal injury to an employee in the final quarter of the period under review following a three-year fatality-free period.
An improved production performance was established post-year-end. During the period, the BEE ownership of the operation was successfully restructured to include more sustainable financing terms and the introduction of an employee share-ownership trust.
Marula has begun to trial new technologies and mining equipment to increase efficiencies and improve safety and productivity. The completion of the expanded TSF and future mine extensions will ensure the long-term sustainability of the operation.
Tonnes milled increased by 10% to 1.80 million tonnes (FY2020: 1.64 million tonnes), while a deterioration in the ratio of stoping-to-development tonnes and poor ground conditions resulted in a 7% decline in the 6E milled head grade to 4.37g/t (FY2020: 4.70g/t). This was offset by improved concentrator recoveries and additional metal recovered from concentrate sludge. 6E concentrate production increased by 10% to an annual record of 231 000 ounces (FY2020: 210 000 ounces). In FY2020, the impact of Covid-19 accounted for total production losses of 33 000 ounces 6E in concentrate.
Total cash costs were impacted by inflationary pressures and the additional spend associated with a change in shift patterns to compensate for Covid-19 protocols, increasing by 25% to R2.8 billion from R2.3 billion in the prior comparable period when R150 million in abnormal production costs incurred during the national lockdown were included in the cost of sales, but excluded from the calculation of unit costs. Covid-19-related expenditure amounted to R58 million (R252 per 6E ounce) and unit costs increased by 13% to R12 157 per 6E ounce (FY2020: R10 713 per 6E ounce).
Capital expenditure of R342 million (FY2020: R340 million) was incurred on progressing the TSF and fleet replacement, while feasibility studies for a life-of-mine extension were well advanced and will be taken to the board for approval during FY2022. This project is expected to increase life-of-mine at Marula through deepening and extending the existing production shafts.
6E sales volumes of 229 000 ounces increased by 9% (FY2020: 210 000 ounces) and record prices for palladium, rhodium, ruthenium and iridium resulted in a 71% increase in Marula’s rand basket price received of R38 260 per 6E ounce (FY2020: R22 335 per 6E ounce). Gross profit of R5.9 billion rose 144% (FY2020: R2.4 billion) and Marula generated R2.9 billion in free cash flow (FY2020: R2.2 billion). After accounting for the impact of the non-cash BEE charge of R1.5 billion, Marula contributed R1.7 billion to Group headline earnings (FY2020: R1.1 billion).
Two Rivers operated well during the period, successfully navigating challenges presented by Covid-19, intermittent power availability due to regional and national constraints at Eskom and progressing several major replacement and expansion projects under construction.
The delayed return of foreign employees following Covid-19-related national border closures impacted staffing levels at Two Rivers in the early weeks of the reporting period, while the third wave experienced late in the financial year resulted in increased absenteeism from senior management.
Milled throughput of 3.28 million tonnes increased by 9% (FY2020: 3.02 million tonnes), while 6E milled head grade of 3.43g/t (FY2020: 3.45g/t) was impacted by higher volumes of development tonnage. Production volumes benefited from plant stability and recoveries and 6E metal in concentrate increased by 15% to 300 000 ounces (FY2020: 261 000 ounces). In FY2020, the impact of Covid-19 accounted for total production losses of 34 000 ounces 6E in concentrate.
Total cash costs increased by 25% to R3.1 billion (FY2020: R2.5 billion) as mining rates increased to build up the Covid-19-depleted run-of-mine stockpile ahead of commissioning the UG2 plant expansion. In total, run-of-mine production increased by 17% from the prior comparable period. Consequently, unit costs per tonne milled increased by 15% to R949 per tonne (FY2020: R823/tonne) and a more moderate 9% to R10 376 per 6E ounce in concentrate (FY2020: R9 513 per 6E ounce). Covid-19-related expenditure of R19 million equated to spend of R64 per 6E ounce.
Capital expenditure increased by 52% to R1.2 billion (FY2020: R800 million) as spend accelerated on several projects including the UG2 plant expansion, the TSF, the fleet replacement programme and early works on the Merensky expansion.
Record pricing for Two Rivers’ UG2 production, together with a 16% increase in 6E sales volumes to 304 000 ounces (FY2020: 261 000 ounces), resulted in record gross profit of R7.5 billion (FY2020: R2.8 billion), with free cash flow rising 153% to R3.3 billion (FY2020: R1.3 billion). After intercompany adjustments, Implats recorded attributable profit from Two Rivers of R1.7 billion (FY2020: R687 million) and received R1.2 billion in dividends during the period (FY2020: R566 million).
Zimplats delivered a strong operational performance and made pleasing progress on the expansion projects under construction at the operation, despite the challenges presented by managing and mitigating the potential threat presented by Covid-19.
In February, following a period of abnormally high regional rainfall, a portion of the high wall at the Ngwarati Mine box cut collapsed, fatally injuring an employee and resulting in the temporary closure of the mining portal. This necessitated the transfer of production teams to Rukodzi, Bimha and Mupani mines. Milled volumes were supplemented by stockpiled development ore from Mupani to mitigate the impact on production. The box cut was repaired and Ngwarati was recommissioned at the end of the period. All box cuts were reassessed for stability.
Milled volumes increased by 1% to 6.82 million tonnes (FY2020: 6.75 million tonnes). 6E milled head grade of 3.44g/t (FY2020: 3.48g/t) declined by 1% and was impacted by higher volumes of stockpiled development ore to mitigate the production impact of the Ngwarati high wall subsidence. Higher milling rates and lower-grade material adversely impacted process recoveries and 6E metal in concentrate production of 590 000 ounces declined by 1% (FY2020: 597 000 ounces). 6E matte volumes of 579 000 ounces were flat relative the prior comparable period (FY2020: 580 000 ounces), while 6E sales volumes of 543 000 ounces declined by 2% due to an export administrative delay experienced towards the end of the period. This material subsequently delivered post the end of the period in early July 2021.
Total cash costs increased by 6% to US$387 million, with mining inflation compounded by higher mining and smelting costs. Unit costs per tonne milled increased by 6% to US$57 per tonne, while marginally lower matte volumes resulted in unit costs rising by 7% to US$668 per 6E ounce (FY2020: US$627 per 6E ounce). On a stock-adjusted basis, unit costs increased by 8% to US$661 per 6E ounce in matte (FY2020: US$613 per 6E ounce) impacted by the additional milling of low-grade stockpiles. Covid-19- related expenditure of US$6 million equated to spend of US$11 per 6E ounce.
Capital expenditure increased by 43% to US$159 million (FY2020: US$111 million) and was 41% higher in rand terms as the Mupani and Bimha expansion projects and the third concentrator plant received board approval and spend on the Mupani Mine replacement project accelerated. The development of Mupani Mine to replace Rukodzi and Ngwarati mines which deplete in FY2022 and FY2025, respectively, is progressing well and on schedule. The project targets to attain a design capacity of 2.2Mtpa in September 2024, at a total estimated cost of US$264 million. Zimplats achieved gross profit of R11.6 billion (FY2020: R7.0 billion), generated R4.8 billion in free cash flow (FY2020: R2.5 billion) and contributed R4.5 billion in headline earnings (FY2020: R3.4 billion) to the Group.
The impact of rising Covid-19 infection rates in the broader Mimosa community were well-controlled by the operation, which successfully applied Group protocols. The mine delivered strong results in FY2021, benefiting from higher production volumes and a step-change in sales as concentrates accumulated during the FY2020 IRS force majeure were delivered to South Africa in the period.
Milled volumes of 2.86 million tonnes increased by 6% from the prior comparable period (FY2020: 2.70 million tonnes), during which extensive repairs were required to the milling circuit. Marginally higher 6E head grade of 3.87g/t (FY2020: 3.85g/t) was offset by weaker recoveries and 6E in concentrate production of 261 000 ounces increased by 5% (FY2020: 248 000 ounces). 6E sales volumes increased by 38% to 283 000 ounces (FY2020: 204 000 ounces).
Cash costs at Mimosa increased by 14% to US$217 million (FY2020: US$190 million) with inflationary pressures compounded by bonus payments in recognition of achieving 12 months of operation without a lost-time injury, higher mined and milled throughput and the increased transport and selling expenses associated with higher sales volumes. Unit costs per tonne milled increased by 9% to US$76 per tonne (FY2020: US$70 per tonne), while unit costs of US$832 per 6E ounce were 8% higher than the prior comparable period, which benefited from the drawdown of previously accumulated ore stockpiles during Q4 FY2020. Capital expenditure increased by 37% to US$59 million (FY2020: US$43 million) as spend on the plant optimisation project accelerated.
Strong palladium and base metal prices boosted the basket price received at Mimosa, while higher sales volumes resulted in material gains in reported gross profit, which increased by 235% to R6.2 billion (FY2020: R1.9 billion).
Free cash flow increased to US$89 million (FY2020: US$24 million). After intercompany adjustments, the attributable share of profit in the Implats Group increased to R1.6 billion (FY2020: R421 million). Implats received R561 million in dividends from Mimosa (FY2020: R44 million).
The acquisition of Impala Canada was concluded on 13 December 2019 and the reported operational and financial results therefore reflect the first full year of Implats’ ownership. Despite the logistical obstacles to travel and staffing due to Covid-19 restrictions, material progress was achieved in integrating Impala Canada into the broader Implats Group, with the development of technical, financial, environmental and stakeholder management processes being advanced.
Underground production rates increased by circa 20% during the period, despite Covid-19 staffing constraints, and changes were implemented to the processing flow sheet to improve the integrity and reliability of the concentrator plant. Lac des Iles Mine played a leading role in the regional vaccination programme and relationships with several neighbouring indigenous communities were formalised.
Impala Canada delivered milled throughput of 3.90 million tonnes (FY2020: 1.55 million tonnes) and the milled grade improved to 2.59g/t in the period (FY2020: 2.45g/t), yielding 260 000 ounces 6E in concentrate (FY2020: 97 000 ounces). In FY2020, the impact of Covid-19 accounted for total 6E production losses of 29 000 ounces. Gross costs of C$266 million were impacted by the start-up cost associated with the Sherriff Pit and resulted in a unit cost of C$1 021 per 6E ounce in concentrate. Covid-19-related expenditure of C$3 million equates to spend of C$12 per 6E ounce.
Capital expenditure of C$94 million was incurred on the development of the underground expansion project, the TSF and strengthening critical infrastructure at the Lac des Iles Mine site.
6E sales volumes in concentrate increased to 260 000 ounces (FY2020: 97 000 ounces) and free cash flow generated increased to R3.1 billion (FY2020: R1.1 billion).
Impala Canada achieved gross profit of R4.1 billion (FY2020: R879 million) and contributed R2.8 billion in headline earnings (FY2020: R168 million) to the Group.
During the period, the Implats’ board approved replacement and growth projects at Zimplats and Two Rivers. Collectively, these brownfields mining and concentrator expansions will grow Group 6E mine-to-market production capacity by 260 000 ounces over the short term, with the potential to increase production to 360 000 ounces in the medium term.
At Zimplats, the construction of a third concentrator at Ngezi at a cost of US$94 million will expand milling capacity from 6.7 million tonnes per annum to 7.6 million tonnes. The additional concentrator module will be commissioned in FY2023 and will add 80 000 6E ounces to the operation’s annual production capacity. Further minor upgrades to the new concentrator in future will increase milling capacity to 8.6 million tonnes per annum.
Stockpile and run-of-mine ore from existing portals, including Mupani, will initially provide 80 000 ounces of feed for the new concentrator. Over the next seven years, Mupani and Bimha mines will be expanded to replace Mupfuti, which is expected to be depleted by the end of FY2027. The cost of this project is US$204 million to be spent between FY2022 and FY2028. Studies are being advanced to grow mining production further to fully utilise the full potential of the additional milling circuit and realise an additional 100 000 ounces of growth over the medium term.
At Two Rivers, a Merensky mine will be developed alongside the existing UG2 mine and a new concentrator plant constructed at a total capital cost of R5.7 billion. The plant will be commissioned with stockpile accumulated during the establishment of the Merensky portal in FY2024, with full production of 180 000 ounces 6E expected in FY2025.
MINERAL RESERVES AND MINERAL RESOURCES
The attributable Mineral Resource estimate remained static at 277.3 million ounces 6E, as overall production depletion was offset by additions at Two Rivers in response to a positive adjustment to the geological losses on the UG2, Mimosa’s inclusion of the Anglo Claims (now called Wedza West), and Impala Canada’s Lac des Iles following model updates and adjustments to the cut-off grade.
As expected, the sustained high pricing environment had a positive impact on the Group’s Mineral Reserve base resulting in a significant reversal in the status of the previously uneconomic life-of-mine (LoM) IA Mineral Resource, which has been converted to a LoM I Mineral Reserve. Attributable Mineral Reserves increased by 12% to 53.4 million 6E ounces. This substantial increase relates to the following changes at Group operations:
- Impala Rustenburg saw a significant reversal in the status and subsequent conversion of previously downgraded LoM IA (shafts closed prematurely for economic reasons) back into LoM I. The life extensions were the result of the better price environment and the maiden inclusion of the surface TSF into Mineral Reserves following trial mining and the conclusion of a bankable feasibility study
- Two Rivers’ maiden inclusion of the Merensky Mineral Reserves following successful trial mining and the recent update of the historical feasibility study
- Zimplats converted additional Upper Ores (UOR1) on the shallower dipping (9o to14o) flanks following trial mining
- At Mimosa the inclusion of Wedza West (adjacent resources bought from Anglo American Platinum), which offers significant relief in mining flexibility at South Hill
- The optimisation of mine design and scheduling at Lac des Iles.
Implats achieved record financial results for the period, driven by higher sales volumes delivered into a robust rand PGM pricing environment. The increased profitability and strong free cash flow generation has enabled further proactive debt reduction while providing strong shareholder returns in line with our capital allocation framework.
Revenue of R129.6 billion increased by 86%, or R59.7 billion, from the prior comparable period:
- Higher dollar metal prices realised a 68% or R47.5 billion benefit. Higher rhodium (41% of revenue), palladium (31% of revenue) and platinum (17% of revenue) prices increased revenue by R32.0 billion, R8.9 billion and R3.4 billion, respectively. This improvement in dollar prices, together with changes in the sales mix, which includes the benefit of higher sales of ruthenium, resulted in a 59% improvement in total dollar revenue per ounce sold to US$2 587 per ounce (FY2020: US$1 624)
- Sales volumes increased by 17% to 3.27 million ounces due to improved operating momentum and the inclusion of Impala Canada’s results for the full reporting period. This resulted in a 17%, or R11.6 billion, gain
- The average exchange rate achieved of R15.26/ US$ (FY2020: R15.31/US$) remained at similar levels to the prior comparable period, contributing to a 1% or R0.6 billion gain in revenue. Together with higher dollar metal prices, the rand revenue per 6E ounce sold rose by 59% to R39 478 (FY2020: R24 863)
- Cost of sales of R76.1 billion increased by 63%, or R29.5 billion
- Increased volumes of concentrate receipts (FY2020 volumes were impacted by Covid-19- related lockdowns) and record rand metal prices resulted in an 84%, or R15.4 billion, increase in the cost of IRS metals purchased
- Cash costs increased by 30% or R8.2 billion due to inflationary pressures, higher mined volumes, increased spend on asset integrity and mining flexibility at Impala Rustenburg, and the inclusion of Impala Canada for the full reporting period. In the prior comparable period, abnormal production costs of R1.3 billion, which were incurred during South Africa’s national lockdown, were excluded from cash costs and the calculation of Group unit costs. A total of R563 million of Covid-19-related spend was incurred at managed operations in FY2021 and is included in both cash and unit costs
- Higher production, pricing and profitability resulted in a significant increase in royalties, which increased by R3.4 billion to R4.7 billion
- The credit to the cost of sales from the deferment of costs to metal inventories reduced by R1.8 billion.
Stock-adjusted unit costs increased by 11% to R14 840 per 6E ounce, with mining inflation of 5.1% exacerbated by Covid-19-related costs, once-off bonuses, increased investment on asset integrity, improved maintenance and targeted spend on development to improve mining flexibility.
The expected destocking of circa 100 000 ounces of 6E in-process inventory was negatively impacted by delays to scheduled processing maintenance due to Covid-19, the impact of Eskom load shedding and the interruption of hydrogen supply to the refineries. As a result, the Group ended the period with circa 80 000 ounces of excess 6E in-process inventory, with circa 45 000 ounces at Zimplats and circa 35 000 ounces at the South African processing facilities. All excess stock is expected to be treated by the end of FY2022. At current prices, the estimated financial impact of excess stock at period-end is circa R2.1 billion in gross profit and circa R2.3 billion in free cash flow.
Record revenue resulted in the Group generating a gross profit of R53.5 billion, up 130% or R30.2 billion from the R23.3 billion achieved in the prior comparable period. The rand strengthened by 18% to close the period at R14.32 (FY2020: R17.38/US$). The revaluation of foreign currency balances resulted in a loss of R1.3 billion compared to a gain of R786 million in the prior comparable period.
The impact of higher sales volumes and record dollar basket pricing resulted in robust earnings from Two Rivers and Mimosa, with income from associates increasing by R2.1 billion to R3.2 billion. Net finance costs declined materially, due to a combination of higher interest earned on higher average cash balances and lower finance costs following the proactive repayment of debt during the period.
There were two significant non-cash adjustments accounted for in profit before tax:
- An impairment reversal of R14.7 billion (pre-tax) comprising a partial reversal of the impairments on property, plant and equipment (R10.4 billion), as well as the prepayment of the Royal Bafokeng royalties (R4.3 billion) relating to Impala Rustenburg. This impairment reversal was due to changes in the estimates, particularly long-term metal prices, used to determine the recoverable amount of Impala Rustenburg assets
- The restructuring of the Marula BEE debt, which resulted in an IFRS 2 BEE charge of R1.5 billion in other expenses arising on the difference in the fair value of the shares disposed of and the fair value on the consideration received from the BEE shareholders.
The Group recorded EBITDA of R61.4 billion (FY2020: R29.4 billion) at an EBITDA margin of 47% (FY2020: 42%).
The increase in the tax charge of R20.1 billion from R6.5 billion in the prior comparable period reflects the impact of improved profitability across the Group and the deferred tax charge of R4.1 billion raised on the impairment reversal. The IFRS 2 BEE charge was not deductible for tax purposes and the effective tax rate of 29.5% was marginally higher versus the prior comparable period (FY2020: 28.4%).
Basic earnings increased to R47.0 billion or 5 996 cents per share from R16.1 billion and 2 066 cents per share in the prior comparable period. After adjusting for the after-tax profit on the reversal of the impairment, headline earnings more than doubled to R36.4 billion or 4 635 cents per share (FY2020: R16.1 billion and 2 075 cents per share). The IFRS 2 BEE charge of R1.5 billion is included in headline earnings for the period.
The weighted average number of ordinary shares in issue increased to 784.4 million from 777.2 million in the prior comparable period following the conversion by bondholders of the ZAR bonds into equity. The remaining 59 bonds (R0.59 million) outstanding at year-end were converted to equity in early July 2021.
The Implats board has approved the declaration of a final dividend of R12.00 per ordinary share, in line with the approved dividend policy, bringing the total dividend for FY2021 to R22.00 per share (FY2020: R5.25 per share). The dividend was declared from retained earnings and will be subject to a 20% dividend withholding tax for shareholders who are not exempt from, or do not qualify for, a reduced rate of withholding tax. The final dividend will be paid on Friday, 27 September 2021.
Cash flow generated from operations increased by R37.1 billion to R56.9 billion, benefiting from higher sales volumes, record pricing and the lag in IRS contractual payments for metals purchased, which impacted positively on working capital. This increased cash flow was partially offset by the increase in cash taxes paid to R14.5 billion from R1.7 billion in the prior comparable period. As a result, net cash flow from operations increased by R24.7 billion to R41.8 billion.
The integrity and sustainability of our business is a key focus. Capital spend of R6.3 billion increased by 47% due primarily to the inclusion of a full year of spend at Impala Canada, increased operating momentum as well as the acceleration of projects at Zimplats. R1.8 billion was received in dividend payments from Two Rivers and Mimosa. Overall, free cash flow increased to R38.3 billion from R14.4 billion. The Group invested R1 billion to pre-fund its future environmental obligations. Spend of R1.6 billion was incurred on the purchase of Implats shares to settle its share scheme liabilities and the stronger rand resulted in a R742 million loss on the translation of offshore cash balances. R8.6 billion was spent on the repurchase of ZAR convertible bonds, and R4.6 billion in repaying borrowings.
Accelerated debt reduction resulted in the repayment of almost all outstanding debt (excluding lease liabilities) at year-end. While the Marula BEE debt of R885 million was repaid as scheduled, the repayment of the Impala Canada term loan of R3.7 billion was expedited and settled in full during the period.
The residual ZAR convertible bond liability was largely extinguished through the combination of a tender offer and on-market purchases of bonds by Implats (cumulatively 157 905 bonds) and conversions to equity (167 036 bonds) during the period, particularly after the Group announced its intention in early June 2021 to exercise its soft-call option to redeem the ZAR convertible bonds. The remaining 59 bonds (R0.59 million) outstanding at year-end were converted in early July 2021. Implats closed the period with gross cash balances of R23.5 billion, which includes the consolidated cash balances of R5.7 billion at Zimplats and Impala Canada.
During the period, the Group successfully refinanced its existing revolving credit facility (RCF) with various South African and international lenders. The multi-currency RCF, which comprises a R6 billion tranche and a US$125 million tranche, was undrawn at year-end. Liquidity headroom – comprising gross cash of R23.5 billion, net of restricted cash of R362 million, and undrawn committed facilities – increased to R30.9 billion (FY2020: R16.1 billion).
Implats’ capital allocation framework aims to deliver, sustain and grow meaningful value for all stakeholders and provide attractive returns to shareholders, while retaining financial flexibility for the Group. Of the R38.3 billion free cash generated in the period, circa 70% was allocated to shareholder returns through cash dividends of R17.7 billion (R7.9 billion interim and R9.8 billion final) and repurchasing R8.6 billion of ZAR convertible bonds, and R0.2 billion of odd-lot shares. These repurchases have partially reduced the dilutionary impact of the bonds and are earnings-accretive to shareholders.
Cash generation during the financial year, together with the debt reduction initiatives, resulted in Implats ending the period debt free with a substantial increase in the cash balance and balance sheet headroom strengthened through increased facilities.
Balance sheet optimisation, through reduced and restructured debt and increased funding flexibility, is a key pillar of Implats’ strategy. Proactive steps to reduce debt have meaningfully reduced the interest cost incurred by the Group and mitigated the potential quantum of equity to be issued in future. Implats is well-positioned to allow a meaningful shift in capital allocation priorities to enhance shareholder returns and the funding of value-accretive expansion of the business aligned with market requirements.
All three major PGM markets – platinum, palladium and rhodium – recorded fundamental market deficits during 2020. Covid-19-related market shocks were considerable with PGMs facing unprecedented demand destruction due to interrupted economic activity, which was largely balanced by simultaneous and unforeseen supply reductions. While both palladium and rhodium were in fundamental industrial deficits, physical investment demand for platinum absorbed the industrial and jewellery surplus, tightened the market and supported pricing.
In 2021, a moderation in investment demand is likely to result in the platinum market returning to surplus. The supply impact of the release of in-process inventory by South African producers will be compounded by the demand impact of the global semi-conductor chip shortage on automotive production. In the case of palladium, reduced Russian supply should result in a persistent, but moderated deficit, while in rhodium a more balanced market in 2021 is expected before demand growth in 2022 results in continued market tightness and a fundamental deficit.
While the pace of the global economic rebound has been more rapid than previously expected, various reinstatements of restrictions have resulted in erratic and uneven growth. In general, the pattern of recovery has favoured advanced economies, where vaccination programmes are well advanced and monetary and fiscal policy is supportive.
Pandemic-related developments have led to rising reported inflation, which has resulted in a potential divergence in the duration and scope of future expansive fiscal and monetary policy across the globe. The International Monetary Fund has struck a note of caution on inflationary fears, reiterating its view that inflation should moderate to pre-pandemic ranges in most countries in 2022, while cautioning central banks to look through transitory inflationary pressures and not damage a still-fragile recovery and consumer confidence through premature tightening.
Platinum continues to take its lead from investor sentiment and hence global macro-economic factors, including the outlook for inflation, interest rates and the dollar. The platinum price rallied to a six-year high of US$1 267 per ounce in February before investor activity moderated with a material slowing in ETF purchases, substantially reduced speculative positioning and net sales of investment bars and coins by Japanese investors.
Palladium pricing was robust, with news of flooding at a major Russian mining complex resulting in an acceleration in pricing to more than US$3 000 per ounce. While the chip shortage has eased demand projections in 2021, physical markets remain tight and these conditions have been exacerbated by renewed investor activity, with purchases by ETF investors and increased futures activity.
Rhodium prices rallied in the early months of the year, but then began to weaken in May as automotive purchases eased ahead of production revisions over the Northern Hemisphere summer and refined supply accelerated on South African de-stocking. This created a perfect storm for rhodium. Still-high pricing, coupled with funding constraints and price volatility, acted as a strong disincentive to customers wishing to take a longer-term view on a market, which is expected to tighten materially in the medium term on the continued recovery in automotive demand and a normalisation of underlying refined volumes from South Africa.
The global light vehicle market remains volatile in 2021. While it is increasingly clear that underlying auto demand is robust, the combination of lockdown disruptions and supply constraints related to the semiconductor shortage have resulted in downward revisions to expected production and sales in 2021, with these volumes deferred into 2022 and 2023. Latest forecasts from LMC Automotive indicate 12% annual sales growth in 2021 with a further 6% growth in 2022. Production is expected to run ahead of sales as depleted inventories are replenished. While total PGM loadings in catalysts are expected to stabilise after several years of structural increases, initial switching of platinum for palladium in gasoline catalyst formulations is expected, before gaining further momentum over the medium term. The heavy-duty market is also set to strengthen in 2021, with tightening emissions legislation in China and India leading to increased platinum use from the sector.
Government policies continues to tighten the net on emissions globally and, as more countries target “net zero”, news flow on bans of sales of internal combustion engine vehicles has increased. The Group continues to monitor a range of electrification forecasts to assess the likely impact on this key demand sector. Implats’ view remains that the structural impact of electrification will be felt towards the end of the decade and that the medium-term automotive demand outlook for PGMs remains robust, with tightening emissions standards and rising production volumes from a Covid-19-depressed base, likely to support firm demand through the middle of the decade.
Industrial demand remains robust and has rebounded rapidly from the interruptions stemming from Covid-19. Capacity expansions in glass and chemicals continue to bolster annual “top-up” demand from turning of process-catalysts and substrates, while petrochemical demand is recovering in line with increased activity in the oil industry. A series of recently announced electrolyser projects and increased production of stationary fuel cells will also support industrial demand from platinum and iridium in the medium term. Chemical sector activity will support palladium and ruthenium demand, while price increases in rhodium have resulted in increased efforts to thrift “loadings” in industrial processes, where possible.
Resurgent global consumer activity will support a strong rebound in jewellery demand as the PGI continues to work with industry partners to support and encourage the development of innovative branded collections to increase the competitiveness and appeal of platinum to consumers. While demand recovery in the US has been particularly robust, sporadic lockdowns in the key markets of China and India do provide some headwinds to the expected recovery in demand in 2021. A falling gold price has also increased competition, which has been encouraged by the steepening price discount that emerged between platinum and gold over 2020.
Covid-19 intensified the global focus on decarbonisation. “Build back better” government policies and the increasing focus on reaching “net zero” bodes well for large-scale support for the emergence of a hydrogen economy. In the medium term, while the impact on demand is likely to be limited, the benefit of an improving narrative for the longer-term outlook for PGMs is likely to lend support to investor demand.
While the short-term supply outlook for PGMs has been impacted by several operating challenges across the peer group, there have been limited changes to the primary supply outlook over the medium term. Where growth has been announced, it is Implats’ view that it will primarily serve to replace the eroding base of other mines reaching end-of-life. In South Africa, constrained processing capacity, the changing mix of ore and challenges associates with Eskom power supply persist, providing limited production upside from the region to meet the robust demand growth expected for primary PGMs in the medium term.
Conversations with Implats’ customers recognise the supply constraints that characterise the markets, and while requests for palladium and rhodium have long exceeded the Group’s offered volumes, tightening markets for iridium and ruthenium have intensified the focus on the critical role South Africa plays in supplying the PGMs required for the evolving end-uses in industrial applications over the next decade.
PROSPECTS AND OUTLOOK
Internal planning to secure operational resilience during the pandemic has been ongoing since its emergence in early 2020 and vigilance in protecting the safety and health of employees will be maintained in FY2022 as the Group completes its planned vaccination programme for employees.
The operational focus in the near-term will be on the continued optimisation of Impala Canada, the leveraging of the enhanced mining flexibility established at Impala Rustenburg to deliver further growth, and the advancement of projects across mine-to-market operations where Implats has sought to capitalise on inherent mining efficiencies and flexibilities at its low-cost assets to capture quick-to-market production growth to harness the benefit of a robust PGM pricing cycle.
The Group’s processing assets are a key competitive differentiator. The changing ore mix of its growing production profile and the aspiration to improve the energy efficiency and environmental impact of its value chain will result in a series of studies aimed at proposing the optimal route for expansion.
Implats’ balance sheet is strong, with a substantial closing net cash balance and increased funding flexibility through upsized and refinanced facilities. This will allow the Group’s capital allocation priorities to increase shareholder returns and fund the sustainable and efficient growth potential of its asset base.
PGM miners remain under intense pressure to meet challenging and sometimes conflicting stakeholder expectations and this task has been complicated by the economic devastation and uncertainty associated with the Covid-19 pandemic and recent social unrest in South Africa.
In Zimbabwe and Canada, Implats continues to maintain open and constructive engagement with its stakeholders to advance positive and mutually beneficial relationships with host countries and communities.
Production volumes will be supported through the planned release of accumulated inventory and Group 6E refined production is estimated to be between 3.30 and 3.56 million ounces for FY2022. Group operating costs are expected to be between R15 600 and R16 300 per 6E ounce on a stock-adjusted basis. The board approved a R1.1 billion once-off, discretionary employee award, which will be paid in FY2022 and will add R450 per 6E ounce to unit costs. Group capital expenditure is forecast to be between R8.0 and R9.0 billion. This guidance is based on assumed R14.89/US$ and C$1.28/US$ respectively.
|Refined production||6E koz||3 271||3 300–3 560|
|Concentrate production||6E koz||3 292||3 240–3 510|
|Impala||1 291||1 250–1 350|
|Zimplats||590||580 – 600|
|Two Rivers||300||310 – 330|
|Mimosa||261||250 – 270|
|Marula||231||220 – 260|
|Impala Canada||261||270 – 300|
|IRS (third-party)||358||360 – 400|
|Group unit cost||R/oz 6E||14 840||15 600 – 16 300|
|Includes once-off discretionary bonus of R1.1 billion in FY2022||450|
|Group capital expenditure||Rm||6 437||8 000–9 000|
|Exchange rate assumptions||R/US$||15.40||14.89|
The financial information on which this outlook is based has not been reviewed and reported on by Implats’ external auditors.
Implats announced the appointment of Adv Thandi Orleyn as an independent non-executive director of the board of directors and chairman designate with effect from 3 August 2020. She assumed the chairmanship of the board on 26 October 2020 following the resignation of Dr Mandla Gantsho as chairman and independent non-executive director of the board. Mr Ralph Havenstein was appointed as an independent non-executive director and a member of the audit and risk committee with effect from 1 January 2021. Ms Babalwa Ngonyama will resign as an independent non-executive director of the board at the conclusion of the annual general meeting in October 2021 after 11 years’ service on the board.
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