Sibanye-Stillwater on Thursday reported a half-year profit boosted by higher precious metals prices and a weaker rand currency. Production from all the company’s operating segments increased year-on-year despite the disruptions posed by the pandemic.

The precious metals producer said headline earnings per share for the six months to June were 350 cents ($0.21) per share compared with a loss per share of 54 cents a year earlier when output was hit by strikes.

The company, which last paid a dividend in the second half of 2016 due to the acquisition of the Stillwater operations, declared an interim dividend of 50 cents per ordinary share.

Sibanye is reviewing the ramp-up schedule of its Blitz project in Montana due to disruptions

Along with significantly higher precious metal prices received for the period, the operational results added higher production to achieve record six-month adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of $990 million, 718% higher than for the comparable period in 2019.

Sibanye reported production from the South African gold operations of 12,554kg (403,621oz), 17% up compared to the same period of 2019.

“The SA operations are likely to achieve optimal production levels by Q4 2020, with the outlook for precious metals prices constructive, the operating and financial outlook for H2 2020 is extremely positive.” said Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye Stillwater.

Output at the company’s U.S platinum group metals (PGM) operations rose 5% to 297,740 ounces, while recycled production fell 6% on a global slowdown of auto catalyst collections and deliveries and logistical constraints, the company said.

PGM production from its South African operations rose 5% year-on-year to 657,828 ounces, with the inclusion of the Marikana operations during the period offsetting disruptions due to covid-19.

Sibanye is reviewing the ramp-up schedule of its Blitz project in Montana due to disruptions caused by the pandemic, with early indications showing a delay of 18 months.

It’s estimated that the project will boost the firm’s platinum group metals (PGM) production in the US by more than 50% to around 850,000 ounces.

Midday Thursday, Sibanye’s stock was up 0.4% on the NYSE. The company has a $7.9 billion market capitalization.

(With files from Reuters)

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