Anglo American platinum production down 40% after S. Africa strike

Anglo American platinum production down 40% after S. Africa strike

Anglo American (LON:AAL) shares were down as much as 1.8% in early trading Thursday after the world's biggest platinum producer disclosed the full impact of a crippling five-month strike that hit its South African mines.

Platinum output dove 40% to 358,000 ounces in the three months to June 30, less dramatic than anticipated by Amplats, as Anglo’s platinum unit is known, which had warned earlier this week that first-half profit could fall up to 96% because of the worked stoppage that ended June 24.

Iron ore and copper output, however, performed well in the period. Production of the steel making ingredient, the bulk commodity that accounts for about 50% of Anglo's earnings, was 2% higher than in the same period last year, hitting 11.5 million metric tons.

Copper production, meanwhile, went up by 6% to 194,400 tons, thanks to improved productivity at Los Bronces and Collahuasi mines in Chile.

Anglo American did not provide any details about the announced sale of its platinum mines in its production statement on Thursday.

Anglo’s coal mines ramped up output by 5%,  while diamond production from its De Beers unit increased 7%, thanks largely to the recovery of its Venetia mine after pit flooding last year.

Sibanye Gold (NYSE:SBGL) —South Africa’s top bullion producer— has been repeatedly hinted as the most likely buyer for Anglo’s mines in the platinum belt.

Mark Cutifani, who became the group’s chief executive officer in April 2013, said last year he considered performance at the mining group to have been “unacceptably poor” and set a goal of improving Anglo’s return on capital to at least 15% by 2016 from about 8% in June.