Implats reports record headline earnings despite Covid-19 challenges

CFO Meroonisha Kerber: Implats has had to navigate through the increasing complexity of Covid-19.

Impala Platinum Holdings has reported a revenue increase of 44 percent to R69.9 billion for the year ended 30 June 2020, despite significant challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“FY2020 was a particularly difficult period for the group, which has to navigate through the increasing complexity Covid-19 introduced into our operating environment” says Implats CFO Meroonisha Kerber

However, with support from its employees and shareholders, concessions made by the governments in the countries the group operates in, strong PGM pricing and a weaker rand, Implats delivered record headline earnings of R16.1 billion. “Overall, I am very proud to be part of the team responsible for this outcome,” Meroonisha adds. 

Focusing on the safety of its employees

Meroonisha says that, as a mining industry, Implats has always put the safety of its employees first. “This safety culture provided us with a solid foundation to tackle the health challenges caused by Covid-19.” 

She explains that the focus on getting the group’s employees back to work when permitted to do so, and ensuring their working environment was as safe as possible, has enabled Implats to ramp up its operations safely and successfully. 

The group recorded 14 percent and 11 percent improvements in the lost-time and total injury frequency rates respectively, but states that it mourns the loss of five employees at managed operations and two employees at joint ventures during the financial year. 

Results

The group reported that Covid-19 has significantly disrupted and impacted business performance during the second half of the financial year and resulted in an opportunity cost of mine-to-market concentrate production of 290 000 platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and gold (6E) ounces. The release of previously identified excess inventory mitigated the impact on reported production and refined 6E production declined by 8 percent to 2.8 million ounces. 

According to the statement, pricing for the group’s primary products was “robust” and, together with rand depreciation, drove substantial improvements in Implats’ financial performance. The group generated R14.4 billion of free cash flow after capital investment of R4.2 billion and ended the financial year with gross cash of R13.3 billion, net cash of R5.6 billion and liquidity headroom of R16.1 billion. 

The group said that meaningful advances had been made to strengthen its balance sheet through the reduction of debt and dividend payments were reinstated. 

Strategic reposition of Implats pays off

According to the results presentation, the strategic repositioning of Implats over the past several years has enabled the group to successfully navigate the challenges created by the external shock of Covid-19. 

Operational resilience enabled sustained delivery of refined metal to customers and the group benefited from the robust pricing for primary products, achieving record financial results. 

What the future holds

According to the results, the group’s capital allocation framework that it adopted during the year will serve to guide the effective future allocation of financial resources. Production rates at most operations normalised back to near full capacity by year end and the risk of material disruptions as a result of Covid-19 are now steadily receding. 

“FY2020’s robust financial performance, including strong free cash flow generation, will allow Implats to continue to reinvest into the business, which will ensure operational flexibility and sustainability across our operations into the future,” Meroonisha says. 

She adds that the strong financial performance has also allowed Implats to deleverage the balance sheet – and to continue strengthening the balance sheet – by improving the group’s cash reserves, while still generating and sustaining attractive returns for its shareholders.