Sibanye Stillwater in its operating update for the quarter ended 30 September 2020 said it achieved the record quarterly adjusted EBITDA(earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) of R15.59 billion (US$922 million). Net debt was reduced by further R11.16 billion (US$666 million) following conversion of convertible bond during October 2020. This was “another solid performance from the SA PGM Operations,” the company said in the report.
The build-up to normalised production levels at the SA operations has progressed better than planned and the manner in which employees have been reintegrated into the operations without a notable increase in infection rates or operational disruptions, validates the more gradual recall and production build-up strategy.
By the end of Q3 2020, the SA gold operations had recalled approximately 92% of the workforce and achieved a production run rate of approximately 99% of planned levels, with the SA PGM operation having recalled approximately 88% of the workforce with a production run rate of 93% of planned levels achieved. By mid-October 2020, both the SA gold and PGM operations were operating at close to planned production rates with the employee complement close to pre-COVID-19 levels.
While the US PGM operations have continued to operate throughout the year, COVID-19 protocols, particularly compliance with social distancing requirements, has had an ongoing negative impact on productivity.
The social distancing impact is most prevalent on transport to and from work, with employees living throughout the state of Montana and travelling longer distances to work than in SA. Restricted access to the operations has also affected shift arrangements and blasting schedules, resulting in a negative 8% impact on productivity.
Elevated precious metal prices for Q3 2020, together with the 15% depreciation of the rand against the dollar during 2020 year-to-date, has ensured record prices for the basket of metals produced in SA and close to record levels in the US.
Despite still being impacted by COVID-19 constraints during Q3 2020, the consistent operational performance coupled with high commodity prices, underpinned an exceptional financial result for the Group for Q3 2020.
Group adjusted EBITDA for Q3 2020 increased by 182% (or R10,056 million/US$545 million) to R15,592 million (US$922 million), compared with the same period in 2019. This represents another record quarterly financial result, surpassing the full-year Group adjusted EBITDA of R14,956 million (US$1,034 million) for 2019. This outstanding result reflects the significant value accretive PGM acquisition strategy embarked on from 2016.
Strong cash flow generation drove a further reduction in net debt during the period, despite the payment of the R1.4 billion H1 2020 dividend. Net debt: adjusted EBITDA (ND: adjusted EBITDA) at the end of Q3 2020, decreased by 40% to 0.33x from 0.55x at the end of June 2020.
Available funding increased by 19% from R23,799 million (US$1,372 million) at 30 June 2020 to R28,202 million (US$1,683 million) at 30 September 2020, comprising cash on hand of R15,151 million (US$904 million) (30 June 2020: R12,041 million (US$694 million)), committed undrawn facilities of R11,869 million (US$708 million) (30 June 2020: R9,000 million (US$519 million)), and available uncommitted overnight facilities of R1,182 million (US$71 million) (30 June 2020: R2,758 million (US$159 million)).
The strategic deleveraging which has been a primary focus since 2017 is now complete. At current commodity prices and the prevailing exchange rate, and with the SA operations having attained normalised production run rates, the Group is likely to continue generating significant cash flow. Following the resumption of the dividend in August 2020, the Group is well positioned to deliver superior total returns to shareholders.