Johannesburg - Platinum miner Impala Platinum Holdings
[JSE:IMP] on Thursday reported a 78% plunge in first-half profit and said it
would issue a $500m convertible bond to prop up its ailing balance sheet.
Hit by unprecedented violent labour strikes last year, South
African mining companies are struggling against rising costs and declining
Implats chief executive Terence Goodlace said the company
was currently at break-even level and the launch of a convertible bond would
ensure that it can develop three shafts vital to its growth.
"We are doing this primarily because of the operating
environment in South Africa, the situation with profitability and the fact that
we are at break even across the board. We don't want to stop these
projects," Goodlace said.
Implats said headline earnings per share totaled 128 cents
for the six months to end-December, from 573 cents a year earlier.
The company said it was hit by a 25% decline in production
at its strike-hit Rustenburg operations and after it wrote down the value of
some payments owed.
The world's second-largest miner of the precious metal said
it wrote down R603m, to reflect payments owed by a third-party company that use
its refineries and a tax-related provision for its Zimbabwe unit.
Overall gross production was up 2% at 865,000 ounces.
Implats' Rustenburg operations were hit by a six-week strike
in early 2012 and while it managed to escape the deadly labour strife across
South Africa's platinum and gold industries later in the year, its mines have
struggled to return to pre-strike levels.
Above inflation cost increases and a steep hike in the wage
bill to avert further illegal strikes pushed up costs. Unit costs were 6%
higher, with a 17.6% hike in wages being a major contributor.
The company declared an interim dividend of 35 cents per
Shares of Implats slid 3% to R161.26.
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