South Africa's platinum sector, which was battered and bleeding cash just a few years ago, remains resilient even in the face of Covid-19. Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), has delivered a solid set of interim results and managed to pay workers who stayed at home because of the lockdown.
Anglo American is still reaping the rewards of a pivot to mechanisation and modernisation that has been underpinned recently by surging prices. The results it unveiled were for the six months to the end of June - a very long six months indeed. The period began with the Covid-19 pandemic largely confined to Wuhan, China, and ended with South Africa and much of the world under lockdown.
Amplats was able to maintain some operations, notably its open-pit cash-spinner Mogalakwena in Limpopo, producing even during the hard lockdown in April. Still, the measures to contain the pandemic in South Africa and Zimbabwe had a material impact on production, which declined by 585,000 ounces or 25%.
Such a significant loss of production could tip a mining company into the red, but prices early in 2020 for platinum group metals (PGMs) such as palladium and rhodium, used as catalysts in petrol engines, were red hot....