Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s largest platinum producer, expects headline earnings per share for the year to end-December to as much as double from the prior comparative period, thanks to a boost from rising commodity prices.

Although platinum prices are hovering near a 10-year low, SA’s major platinum producers are reporting that cost-cutting and rising prices  have improved profitability,  even as they continue to shed jobs and dispose of noncore assets.

A 13% rise in a basket of platinum-group metals over the period has lifted Amplats’s performance over the period with the company citing a positive R500m re-evaluation of an asset.

SA platinum producers have been boosted by rising prices for platinum group metals rhodium and palladium. All are used in emissions-reducing technology, with palladium pushing to record highs so far in 2019 and eclipsing the gold price for the first time.

Amplats has said previously it is working on boosting palladium production at its Mogalakwena mine. It has  been active in restructuring its assets, and is removing deep-level, labour-intensive mines from its portfolio to focus on shallow, mechanised operations.

“Management is doing what it needs to do to make the business profitable,” Vestact analyst Michael Treherne said. 

Local miners were given a boost in 2018. The rand depreciated 13.75% against the dollar in that year, although it appreciated 7.33% in January. A weaker rand is beneficial to miners, as their products are sold in dollars on international markets.

The company’s update follows that of world number two platinum producer Impala Platinum on Monday, with the latter share rising to a 14-month high after a strong trading update.

 Implats reported a first-half profit from a year-earlier loss. The turnaround was driven by higher platinum-group metals prices, as well as cost containment, Implats said.