Angloplats dives but ready to swim

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Floods, strikes, safety stoppages, not to mention electricity supply problems, saw the output of the world's biggest platinum producer Anglo Platinum slump 11percent to 1million ounces during the six months ended June.

Neville Nicolau, who started as Angloplat chief executive officer during the final month of the period under review, has set the group the goal of nevertheless beating last year's 2,2million ounces by delivering 2,4million refined ounces by the end of the year.

Thanks to a 55percent higher average platinum price, interim revenue grew 17percent to R27billion despite the drop in production. But costs rose as fast as the platinum price, going to R11869 from R7200 per ounce a year ago.

Nicolau was grilled by analysts at the results presentation yesterday on how he plans to reverse the group's rising costs and sliding production.

Answer: bring down unit costs by ramping up volumes.

Though ambitious, his 2,4million ounce target won't beat Angloplat's 2005 record of 2,5million ounces.

Production dropped last year because of work stoppages ordered by incoming Anglo American chief executive officer Cynthia Carroll to address deteriorating safety.

Eight fatalities occurred during the reporting period.