JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Going green and ensuring environmental protection is a good business proposition, African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) CEO Mike Schmidt said on Friday.
Speaking to Mining Weekly after the company had declared a 25% higher dividend on the back of its platinum division reporting a 193%-better performance in the six months to December 31, Schmidt said ARM's latest interim results were a reflection of the value of diversification.
“As manganese and coal prices have taken a sharp decline, we’ve seen a very, very strong performance out of platinum group metals,” he said. (also watch attached Creamer Media video.)
He foresees more to come from the company’s platinum group metals division, where a number of initiatives put in place over the last year were, he noted, starting to bear fruit already.
“Some will only materialise in six to 12 months, but we’ll see a far better performance from platinum going forward,” he added.
He described iron-ore as having held up ahead of expectation and market sentiment.
“There were port problems in the loading out of the ports and logistics. However, that stock inventory is moving very fast so we’ll see all that catch up. Seven-million tonnes of stock will be put through in the next couple of months," he said.
Although manganese had disappointed, it was now 20% off the bottom, "with all operations back in the black and making good money, but nowhere near the levels".
On the coronavirus, he said: “We’ve had no push back yet but we can’t put our heads in the sand. We’re obviously worried about inventory and finished products down in China but we do have a diverse market base, which we’re actively working on with our agents."
ARM’s Assmang operations, which have an electricity ‘wheeling’ arrangement, are studying a number of energy options, against the background of predominantly opencast mining operations consuming considerably more diesel than electricity.
“We’re looking at solar power. We’ve got teams looking at the options around it. I just want to say that, predominantly, we have openpit mines. We consume a lot more diesel than electricity. We do wheel power. We’ve got excess generating capacity so we have helped our sister operations by wheeling power.
“We tap down on our smelters, which are the lower end of the business, and we wheel power. The implications for power losses in our mining division are round about the 5% mark that we’ve lost of the last six months. I’m not sure if that is an industry reflection, but it is far bigger in our smelting or alloy business.
“Certainly, we’re looking at a number of options. It’s not only solar or wind. There are a number of options and combinations and using the power you’ve got and regenerating.
“There is a lot of creative thinking going on, a lot of developments going on and some very interesting technologies, which reduce the power input going forward, even in a smelting space. I’ll be keen to talk about that in about a year’s time.
“The move to hydrogen power is a transition we’re looking at and, just for interest, we've already transitioned some of our bigger fleet orders on to battery, with good preliminary results,” he said, adding that coming with the transition to environmental, social and governance (ESG) sustainability was the company’s quest for greater productivity and efficiency.
“ESG has a business case and we want to capitalise on that,” said Schmidt.