Total production for the year increased by 9% to 40.9 Mt (2020: 38.0 Mt), reflecting the impact of Covid-19 in 2020 as well as plant improvement initiatives in 2021. Production for the period was flat relative to the comparative period (Q4 2020: 9.7 Mt), as high stock levels at Sishen and Kolomela mine due to Transnet rail performing below planned levels earlier in the year, increased further following the annual shut-down for port and rail maintenance.
Total waste stripping for 2021 increased by 2% to 209.4 Mt relative to 204.8 Mt in 2020, supported by the Kumba mining recovery plan.
In the fourth quarter, waste stripping increased by 5% to 54.1 Mt relative to the 51 Mt achieved in the last quarter of 2020. Performance was driven by a 15% increase at Kolomela to 16.4 Mt (Q4 2020: 14.2 Mt), including 6.6 Mt of pre-stripping at Kapstevel South. Sishen’s waste stripping increased by 2% to 37.8 Mt (Q4 2020: 37.2Mt).
Sishen’s and Kolomela’s unit costs are in line with revised guidance of R430-R440/t and R320-R330/t, respectively. C1 unit costs of US$39/t are below the guidance of $40/t.
LOGISTICS, SALES, AND THE MARKET ENVIRONMENT
Total sales ended the year flat at 40.3 Mt, with export sales of 40.2 Mt, up 1% (2020: 40.0Mt) and domestic offtake decreasing by 70% to 0.1 Mt (2020: 0.4Mt). During the period, export sales increased by 3% to 10.7 Mt (Q4 2020: 10.3 Mt) and by 6% compared to Q3 2021. This increase includes additional shipments due to vessels brought forward, as well as improved equipment reliability and throughput at the Saldanha Port, following increased engagements between industry and Transnet to address infrastructure maintenance and capacity.
Closing finished iron ore stock for the year ended at 6.1 Mt (Q4 2020: 4.8 Mt), with the majority of the stock situated at the mines given the rail to port performance.
Even with lower iron ore prices in the second half of the year, Kumba continued to realise competitive prices due to the premium its high quality products attract in the market. For the full year, Kumba achieved an average lump:fine ratio of 69:31 (2020: 69:31) and product quality of 64.1% Fe (2020: 64.3%).
This translated into an average realised FOB export iron ore price of US$161/wmt (equivalent to US$164/dmt), which is 18% above the average Platts 62 index FOB price of US$136/wmt (equivalent to US$139/dmt).
Basic earnings for the period are expected to be between R31,270 million and R34,597 million, an increase of between 37% and 52%. Reported basic earnings and EPS for the comparative period were R22,779 million and R71.03 respectively.
The increase in earnings for the period is largely attributable to the higher average realised FOB export ore price, partly offset by a stronger Rand/US$ exchange rate, relative to the comparative period.
Kumba CEO, Mpumi Zikalala, said “Kumba’s strong safety and operational performance in 2021 delivered a 9% increase in production and more than five years of fatality free production. Thanks to the hard work and commitment from our workforce we have achieved production of 40.9 Mt and sales of 40.3 Mt above its previous guidance of 40.5 Mt and 39.5 Mt, respectively.
Our focus on product quality and development of markets beyond China contributed to an average realised price of US$161 per wet metric tonne (wmt), 18% above the benchmark price of US$136/wmt. While market uncertainty may persist, our premium quality products and value-focused strategy ensure that we are playing our role in the global steel industry’s transition to a cleaner and more sustainable future.”