Unexpected as it was, 2020 was a spectacularly good year for commodity prices, precious metals in particular.

This week’s results have put the magnitude of the rally into perspective. AngloGold Ashanti’s profit increased 160% to $946m in 2020, from $364m in 2019. Gold Fields’ normalised profit was $878m this year, from $343m in 2019. Harmony Gold this week reported a net interim profit of R5.8bn compared to R1.3bn for the comparative period in 2019. Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats’) profit nearly doubled to R30.4bn in 2020, from R18.5bn in 2019 — itself one of the best years for platinum group metals (PGM) producers. Impala Platinum (Implats) expects to produce a fourfold rise in earnings, to R14.8bn. And PGM and gold producer Sibanye- Stillwater moved from earnings of just R62m this time last year to a truly staggering R29.3bn profit for the six months to end-December 2020...

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