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SSW to invest in SA projects as it delivers record results

Sibanye-Stillwater has given the green light to investing R6.3 billion in three South Africa projects as it reported record financial results for 2020, including a 53,600% year-on-year increase in basic earnings per share.
SSW to invest in SA projects as it delivers record results SSW to invest in SA projects as it delivers record results SSW to invest in SA projects as it delivers record results SSW to invest in SA projects as it delivers record results SSW to invest in SA projects as it delivers record results

The Klipfontein project will add to Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kroondal operations in South Africa

Staff reporter

The board last week approved "significant capital investment" of R6.3 billion for the development of the K4 and Klipfontein projects at its PGM operations and the resumption of capital development and equipping at its Burnstone gold project.

However CEO Neal Froneman warned "only the best projects" were currently meeting investment hurdle rates, given South Africa's poor investment climate, which was hindered by uncertain regulatory policy and rapidly rising power costs.

This was resulting in lost opportunity, he said during a 90-minute presentation, adding there was urgent need for reforms to address investment barriers and drive recovery in the country's fragile economy.

Sibanye-Stillwater's three projects were expected to create 7,000 jobs.

K4 was described as an "unrivalled PGM brownfields project", benefitting from sunk capital of R4.4 billion invested by former owner Lonmin and set to ensure the sustainability of the Marikana operations for 50 years.

Burnstone represented "shallow greenfields growth with quick payback" and was expected to produce 2 million ounces of gold over 21 years with a six-year payback using spot prices.

The Klipfontein openpit project, at Kroondal, had added 100,000oz to the company's 40% increase in 4E PGM reserves, announced last week.

Sibanye-Stillwater's PGM operations in South Africa currently contribute about 60% of group adjusted EBIDTA.

The company said nine colleagues had lost their lives in 2020.

Sibanye-Stillwater was quick to point to its ESG credentials and has set a goal for net-zero emissions by 2040.

It said it would provide a full update on its decarbonisation strategy "in the latter part of 2021".

Strong results

Basic EPS rose to 1,074c (US261c/ADR), adjusted free cash flow was a 63-fold increase on 2019 to a record R19.9 billion (US$1.2 billion) and it said the R10.7 billion in dividends declared in 2020 was equivalent to Sibanye's listing market cap in 2013.

The company had tipped the strong results earlier this month, in line with JSE listing requirements. 

It put the strong performance down to operations in South Africa recovering to reach normalised production levels in November following the country's COVID-19 lockdown in the second quarter, and increased commodity prices.

US platinum group metal production was slightly below revised guidance due to a spike in COVID-19 infections in the fourth quarter.

"With a tailwind of strong commodities and increased production for 2021, the group is positioned for an even stronger financial performance for 2021," Froneman said.

"People outside the industry have described the PGM sector as entering a supercycle and I think they are not wrong," he said during the presentation.

"The global focus has shifted to prioritising a cleaner and greener future, Sibanye-Stillwater is particularly well placed in pursuing its growth strategy and producing the essential metals that the world requires."

He tipped making "one or two" acquisitions in the tech metals sector this year.

The company ended the year with a net cash position of R3.1 billion (US$210 million).

Sibanye-Stillwater shares are trading near a one-year high, closing down 0.5% on Friday to R68.43, valuing it about R200 billion (US$14 billion).