Amplats axes dividend as swings to deep loss

Strike-hit and top global platinum producer Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) reported on Monday a switch into a steep operating loss in 2012 amid surging operating costs, and said it was focusing on turning its performance around.

The company reported an operating loss of 6,334 million rand for 2012 from a profit of 7,965 million rand in 2011 and said that what it termed headline earnings per share also switched into a loss of 5.62 rand from a profit of 13.65 rand ($1.53, 1.13 euro) in the previous year.

Net debt shot up by 186 percent, and the company waived its dividend.

The company took a knock from low mineral prices, high inflation levels and wildcat violent strikes.

In a bid to swing back to profitability, the company plans to cut 14,000 jobs and shut two of its shafts in the platinum belt of Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg.

"We need to do something about the profitability of the company," chief executive officer Chris Griffith said in a conference call. "We have got to turn around this company."

Amplats reported an eight-percent fall in its output of refined platinum to 2.22 million ounces, mainly because of the two months of industrial action in the last half of the year.

Chief financial officer Bongani Nqwababa said there is still "significant headroom to manoeuvre."

In response to the rolling losses, the firm has decided to cut its investment programme drastically.

"We have reduced our capital expenditure target for 2013 to 2015 by approximately 11 billion rand ($1,2 billion, 910,000 euros) and for the next decade by 25 percent, to 100 billion rand ($11,2 billion, 8.2 billion euros)," it said in a statement.

The company announced on January 15 that it would layoff 14,000 workers in a restructuring, but has stalled the process pending talks following an outcry from unions and the government.

Griffith said on Monday that "30 percent of those jobs are likely to be redeployed within the company."

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