Sibanye-Stillwater flags $2.5bn write-down on metals prices collapse

Rustenburg PGM operation, about 120 km north-west of Johannesburg. (Image courtesy of Sibanye-Stillwater.)

Precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW)(NYSE: SBSW) flagged on Wednesday a 47.5 billion rand ($2.58 billion) impairment on its upcoming 2023 results due to falling prices for the main metals it mines, including palladium, platinum and nickel.

The company said it expects to report in March a loss per share for 2023 of 12.68 rand to 14.01 rand, compared with a profit of 6.51 rand a share the previous year. This is equivalent to an eye-popping 91% drop in annual profit.

The announcement comes only two months after the South African miner announced it would lay off 1,500 workers from its gold mines. It also said at the time it had begun talks that could affect 4,000 more employees at its platinum group metals (PGMs) operations, including those in the United States.

“We have already taken proactive steps to address loss-making production at unprofitable operations and the group remains focused on ensuring the sustainability of our business and delivering on our strategical essentials through this period of low commodity prices,” the company said in a statement.

Sibanye shares fell more than 5% in afternoon trading in Johannesburg, closing at ZAC 1,994. The stock has lost almost 48% of its value in the past year, mainly due to the prices decline of palladium and rhodium.

The sharp drop of PGMs prices decline has driven producers to apply severe cost-cutting measures. Anglo American Platinum said on Monday it would cut 3,700 jobs at its South African operations, or 17% of the Anglo American unit’s workforce. 

Impala Platinum Holdings has offered voluntary job cuts, including at its deep-level Rustenburg complex.

Despite the challenges, Sibanye noted that all its South African and Australian operations were profitable before the end of the fourth quarter of 2023. 

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