February 19, 2020 / 7:44 AM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Rising metals prices spur S.African miner Sibanye to second-half rebound

(Adds details, background, CEO quote)

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 19 (Reuters) - South African mining company Sibanye-Stillwater reported a near 80% surge in full year earnings on Wednesday following a rebound in the second half on the back of rising precious metals prices and the inclusion of its Marikana operations.

Strike action had disrupted operations in the first half of 2019 and the diversified miner reported a headline loss for the full year. However, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) jumped 79% to 14.956 billion rand ($1 billion).

Group revenue rose 44% year-on-year in 2019 to $5.043 billion driven by rising metals prices and an improved operating performance, it said.

Sibanye acquired Lonmin in 2019 in a 226 million pound ($286 million) takeover of its London-listed rival to become the world’s second-largest platinum producer and renamed Lonmin operations Marikana.

Sibanye mines gold, platinum, palladium and rhodium mostly.

Palladium and rhodium prices, widely used in vehicle exhausts to reduce harmful emissions, have climbed as tighter environmental regulations force carmakers to buy more of the precious metals used in catalytic converters.

“The year in review was a tale of two halves, with the financial performance in H2 2019 in stark contrast to H1 2019, which was significantly impacted by strike action at the SA gold operations and other operational disruptions,” Chief Executive Neal Froneman said in a statement.

However, Sibanye reported a headline loss of 40 cents per share for the year ended Dec. 31, 2019, compared with a loss of 1 cent per share in the previous year, weighed down by strike related losses in the first half of the year at its gold operations and a non-recurring costs relating to its convertible bonds.

South African PGM (platinum group metals) production rose 37% in 2019 to 1,608,332 ounces, including the Marikana operations, while U.S. PGM production totalled 593,974 ounces compared with 592,608 ounces in the prior year.

The company’s gold operations produced 932,659 ounces for 2019, down from 1.18 million ounces in 2018.

Sibanye Gold Limited, which owns the Kloof, Driefontein and Beatrix Operations, delisted to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Sibanye Stillwater effective on Wednesday to create separate legal entities for its gold and PGM portfolios, trading under Sibanye Stillwater Limited. ($1 = 14.9507 rand) (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Susan Fenton)

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