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DRDGold to triple dividend

South Africa gold miner DRDGold plans a threefold increase in its dividend payout to SA20c for fiscal-year 2019 on the back of stronger Rand gold prices and earnings.
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DRDGold acknowledged higher gold prices had helped make it possible to triple its dividend

"[DRDGOLD's performance was] not just contrary to the industry trend, but testimony to the resilience of a business model that has been several years in the making," said DRDGold chief executive Niel Pretorius.

The company made a profit of R3.7 billion on its operations in FY2019. Revenue increased to R27.6 billion, based on production of 175,559oz of gold - 6% up on the previous year. 

Pretorius said the higher average Rand gold price received had helped the company.

"Time will tell if this [gold price] is sustainable but while it lasts the impact on our cash flows is nothing short of remarkable," he said.

Most of the increase in production was down to the 17,073oz produced at the company's new operation, Far West Gold Recoveries, which earned the company R89 million after operating costs. This compares against its more established Ergo site, which earned R282.8 million after operating costs.

The company's total cash costs were R24.2 billion.

"[FY2019 was] exceptionally challenging…fraught with disruptive labour action, the near-collapse of power utility Eskom and a loss of investor confidence, as evidenced by capital freeze and high-profile corporate emigrations," said Pretorius. 

Earlier this year, South Africa's labour union the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union asked for a 48% rise in pay, and threatened strike action if their demands were not met. This was swiftly condemned as "outrageous" by the country's prominent mining companies, but pay negotiations soon followed.  

Nevertheless, in 2020 DRDGold plans to produce 175-190,000oz at a cash operating cost of R13,891/oz.

Johannesburg-listed DRDGold (DRD) shares were trading at SA675c on Monday, nearly tripling in value since May, when they were worth 250c. The company's market capitalisation was R4.94 billion.