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Annual Results for the year ended 31 December 2021
Creating economic value for all our stakeholders by delivering
MORE THAN MINING

Commentary

OVERVIEW

RBPlat has remained focused on maintaining its operational fundamentals which are underpinned by our four strategic pillars of pursuing operational excellence, building flexibility, growing organically and pursuing value enhancing opportunities. These fundamentals were at the forefront of our strategic planning as we navigated the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, an unreliable power supply from Eskom and the slow global economic recovery. Our response to the fluid operating environment continues to deliver growth during a period where the mining industry has been focused on stability and recovery. This growth was driven by our shared vision of success, fostered through transparent and collaborative partnerships with all of our stakeholders. We achieved record production with increases in tonnes hoisted of 12.1% to 4 639kt, in tonnes milled of 16.0% to 4 628kt and 4E metals in concentrate of 11.5% to 467koz, compared to 2020. Closing surface stocks increased to 184kt.

Our More than mining philosophy has been an important part of delivering on our purpose of creating economic value for all our stakeholders and meeting the ESG expectations of investors. We are proud of the contribution we have made to our host communities through investing in education and skills development, providing employment in our operations, as well as an enterprise and supplier development (ESD) programme that has contributed to the sustainability of local businesses, and our commitment to local preferential procurement. Our responsible approach to the natural environment has earned us a place as a constituent of the FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index and above industry average scores for our voluntary disclosures to the CDP on climate change and water security.

The safety and health of our employees is key in creating a stable and productive working environment. Sadly, there was one fatal accident at our BRPM operation. On 12 May 2021, Mr MZ Mavie was fatally injured in a fall of ground incident at BRPM North shaft. The Board of Directors (the Board) and management wish to extend their sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr Mavie.

The payment of our maiden dividend last year marked a shift in our strategic focus from organic growth to further enhancing our operational excellence and flexibility, and demonstrated our ability to deliver on our purpose to create economic value for all our stakeholders. Our robust balance sheet and capital allocation discipline provide a platform for the enhancement of stakeholder value and sustainable capital returns to shareholders.

We have a strong track record of value accretive mergers and acquisitions, which remains a key pillar of our strategy. A key aspect of this has been the consideration of large-scale transactions to unlock value to shareholders and to that extent, we received takeover approaches from Implats and Northam during the year. Following a joint cautionary announcement by RBPlat and Implats that an offer through a scheme of arrangement was under discussions, Northam acquired a 32.8% stake in RBPlat from our then largest shareholder, Royal Bafokeng Holdings, with further market purchases pushing this holding up to 34.7% as at 31 December 2021. Implats subsequently announced a firm intention to make a takeover offer and up to 31 December 2021, had acquired a shareholding of 35.3% in RBPlat.

FINANCIAL REVIEW
TOWARDS OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE
PROJECTS
MORE THAN MINING
A RESPONSIBLE APPROACH TO THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
CHANGES TO THE BOARD
DECLARATION OF DIVIDEND
MARKET REVIEW
MARKET OUTLOOK
OUTLOOK AND COMPANY
GUIDANCE

FINANCIAL REVIEW

Revenue for the year increased by 22.8% to R16 428.7 million, supported by strong PGM basket prices and the increase in production resulting from growth in our business. Although our 2021 production was restricted by the slow restart of operations in the first half of 2021, resulting from the Covid-19 second wave and other operational challenges, we increased PGM production by 11.5% to 467koz of 4E. BRPM contributed 249koz of 4E production, an increase of 11.2%, while Styldrift's production increased by 11.8% to 218koz of 4E.

Platinum contributed 24.8% (2020: 26.7%) to the revenue from our operations in the reporting period, while palladium and rhodium contributed 61.8% (2020: 62.5%). The basket price per 4E ounce increased by 13.4% to R35 215.9 (2020: R31 062.1), mainly driven by an increase in palladium and rhodium prices. This was offset by a stronger rand with the average exchange rate received for the period at R15.00 per US dollar, compared to R16.34 per US dollar in the comparative period.

Cost of sales increased by 21.2% to R9 637.3 million (2020: R7 948.7 million) mainly due to increased production volumes as well as on-mine inflation. During the reporting period, we continued to see the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which added R24.6 million (2020: R53.8 million) to operating costs relating to the well-being and care of our employees and our communities in response to the pandemic.

Styldrift's cost of sales increased by 18.5% year-on-year to R4 959.4 million (2020: R4 183.4 million), while BRPM's cost of sales increased by 23.9% year-on-year to R4 486.4 million (2020: R3 619.8 million). Our continued efforts to optimise costs resulted in a further reduction in the fixed cost component of our cash costs, which improved 2.3% year-on-year to 65.8% (2020: 68.1%).

Supported by a strong pricing environment, BRPM reported a 24.4% growth in gross profit to R4 807.7 million (2020: R3 865.8 million) while Styldrift reported a 27.2% growth in gross profit to R2 175.2 million (2020: R1 710.3 million). RBPlat's consolidated gross profit increased by 25.1% to R6 791.4 million from R5 430.7 million in the comparative period with a return on capital employed of 22.4% compared to 17.7% in 2020.

Other income increased by R567.9 million, or 114.9% to R1 062.3 million with the contribution of Impala royalties increasing by 93.1% to R738.5 million and the exchange rate revaluation gains which increased to R213.1 million from a loss of R230.9 million in 2020. The exchange rate revaluation losses were recognised as other expenses in 2020. Our corporate office administrative expenses increased by 23.7% year-on-year to R237.4 million (2020: R191.9 million) mainly due to a R15.3 million increase in advisory and legal fees as a result of the 2021 corporate action. In addition, the 2020 settlement of the RCF also resulted in a R7.9 million increase in commitment fees. Our industry membership and market development contributions increased by 22.1% to R42.5 million partly offset by the benefit of a stronger exchange rate on US dollar contributions.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 28.3% from R6 646.5 million to a record R8 530.6 million, with our EBITDA margin increasing to 51.9% from 49.7% in the previous comparative period. Other finance costs decreased from R487.3 million in 2020 to R382.2 million in 2021, mainly due to a saving of interest on our long-term borrowings as a result of repayment of revolving credit facilities in 2020, as well as saving of interest on the convertible bond liability as a result of conversion, buy-back and settlement of the bonds in the first half of 2021. Lower interest rates on the term debt added to these savings. However, a R312.5 million premium was incurred on the buy-back of the convertible bonds resulting in the overall total finance cost, including the premium paid on conversion of the convertible bonds, increasing from R487.3 million to R694.7 million. Of the 120 000 convertible bonds in issue, 102 152 were converted into 26 108 136 ordinary shares, 17 369 were bought back from the market and 479 convertible bonds were redeemed in cash.

Despite the continued impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic, a significant improvement in the PGM market, coupled with our strong operational performance, resulted in headline earnings increasing by 86.0% to R6 488.2 million in 2021 (2020: R3 488.9 million). Headline earnings per share increased to 2 324.6 cents (2020: 1 354.4 cents). Basic earnings per share were 2 332.4 cents compared to 1 369.9 cents in 2020.

The significant improvement in the PGM market and strong operational performance also increased the cash generated from operations from R3 783.2 million in 2020 to R8 873.9 million in 2021. Following the R1 523.9 million payment of a 2020 maiden dividend and the R1 546.2 million payment of the 2021 interim dividend, our net cash flow from operating activities amounted to R5 700.1 million (2020: R5 825.9 million). In 2021, cash flow from financing activities included the repayment of R609.4 million, which was outstanding on the term debt facility, as well as R482.3 million spent on the buy-back and redemption of 17 848 convertible bonds.

The Group follows a prudent liquidity risk management strategy, which implies maintaining sufficient cash and cash equivalents, the availability of funding through an adequate amount of committed credit facilities and the ability to close out market positions. Due to the dynamic nature of the underlying businesses, the Group aims to maintain flexibility in funding by keeping credit lines available.

At the end of the year, RBPlat had no interest-bearing borrowings outstanding, with R3 008 million of banking facilities available in addition to cash on hand. In 2021, the Group refinanced its banking facilities to a R1 008 million general banking facility and a new five-year R2 000 million revolving credit facility. Despite the current uncertainties, the robustness of the balance sheet positions RBPlat well to create future enterprise value by delivering on its growth strategy and, ultimately, capital returns.

The Group ended the period with cash and cash equivalents of R4 898.4 million (2020: R2 243.2 million). This includes restricted cash of R128.1 million ringfenced for our employee home ownership scheme. Net cash, calculated as cash and cash equivalents, less interest-bearing borrowings, amounted to R4 898.4 million (2020: R1 643.2 million), a 198.1% improvement on the 2020 comparative period.

TOWARDS OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE

Production

To continue to deliver operational excellence and embed long- term sustainable growth, our focus during 2021 was on:

  • achieving meaningful and sustainable improvements in our safety performance in accordance with our pursuit of zero harm
  • operating with an uncompromising commitment to ensure the health and safety of our employees
  • continuing with the transition of BRPM South shaft from Merensky to UG2
  • progressing our long lead concentrator projects to allow us to optimise recovery and sustain production in the long term
  • developing operational maturity at Styldrift to sustainably maintain a 230ktpm run rate

Our strong foundations allowed us to weather the challenges of operating in a fluid and consistently evolving Covid-19 environment with industry cost pressures and a deteriorating power supply.

Total development increased by 16.6% from 36.2km to 42.2km with the increase related to developing sufficient IMS to support the increasing contribution of UG2 at BRPM. BRPM total development increased by 22.0% to 36.6km. The increase in development is aligned with production and ore reserve development. Styldrift total development reduced by 9.7% to 5.6km as expansion capital development reduced. This reduction can be attributed to completion of the expansion capital footprint. An improvement was realised in BRPM's panel flexibility, from an IMS panel ratio of 1.71 to 2.09, which exceeds the revised target of 1.7. Styldrift IMS section flexibility of 1.4 exceeds the target of 1.3, with a total of 19 trackless stoping sections equipped.

Total tonnes hoisted increased by 12.1% to 4 639kt due to increased volumes from BRPM and Styldrift. BRPM tonnes hoisted increased by 11.9% to 2 434kt and Styldrift tonnes hoisted increased by 12.2% to 2 205kt in line with an increase in stoping production. Merensky tonnes hoisted increased by 6.4% to 3 550kt in line with the increased contribution from Styldrift, offsetting the transition of BRPM to UG2 while UG2 tonnes hoisted increased by 35.3% to 1 089kt.

Total tonnes milled increased by 16.0% year-on-year to 4 628kt. Merensky tonnes milled increased by 7.9% to 3 546kt as Styldrift continues to ramp up. UG2 tonnes milled increased by 53.7% to 1 082kt in line with increased UG2 volumes from BRPM North and South shafts. UG2 toll concentrating volumes increased by 384kt to 421kt. Overall built-up head grade decreased by 1.8% to 3.86g/t (4E) with built-up head grades reducing by 1.5% and 2.3% for Styldrift and BRPM, respectively. The reduction in head grade is attributable to higher on-reef dilutions experienced on our Merensky mining horizons at both BRPM and Styldrift as well as the increased contribution of lower grade South shaft UG2 ore to the overall ore mix. Overall recovery (4E) reduced by 1.9% to 81.35%. The key contributors to the reduced recovery are the increase in lower grade South shaft UG2 processed and the increased UG2 toll concentrating. Recovery remains aligned with grade/recovery expectations. Improved volumes combined with the lower recovery yielded a 11.5% and 10.7% increase in 4E and platinum metals in concentrate, respectively. 4E metals in concentrate amounted to 467koz and platinum in concentrate equated to 301koz.

Operating costs

Cash operating costs for the business increased by R1 316 million or 20.2% year-on-year to R7 829 million. BRPM cash costs amounted to R3 883 million and Styldrift to R3 946 million. The increase in expenditure is attributable to higher production volumes, industry inflation and costs related to our response to Covid-19. Key inflationary drivers were CPI (4.4%) and above CPI increases in labour (3.1%), utilities (9.1%) and sundries (3.7%). Unit cost per tonne milled and 4E ounce increased by 3.7% and 7.8% to R1 692/t and R16 770/oz, respectively.

Cash operating costs at BRPM increased by 22.9% from R3 160 million to R3 883 million, cash operating cost per tonne milled and cash operating cost per 4E ounce increased by 4.8% and 10.3% to R1 581 and R15 599, respectively, compared to 2020. Cash operating costs at Styldrift increased by 17.7% from R3 353 million to R3 946 million. Cash operating cost per tonne milled and cash operating cost per 4E ounce increased by 2.7% and 5.4% to R1 818 and R18 108, respectively, compared to 2020.

Capital expenditure

Total capital expenditure decreased by 0.3% to R1 810 million. Expansion capital expenditure decreased by 39.6% to R665 million, the reduction in expenditure is in line with Styldrift, the BRPM tailings storage facility (TSF) and Maseve MF2 project expenditure requirements. Replacement capital increased by R308 million, the increase is related to the extension of the North, South and East footwall declines and associated infrastructure at Styldrift beyond the 230ktpm battery limits required to establish ore reserves to maintain production in the longer term. Stay-in-business (SIB) expenditure increased by R123 million to R497 million in line with operational requirements. SIB as a percentage of operating cost amounted to 6.3%

PROJECTS

Styldrift

With the final 230ktpm stoping infrastructure footprint completed during the second quarter of 2021, and our planned IMS section flexibility of 1.3 in place, management's focus shifted to developing and embedding the operational maturity required to secure improvements in operating efficiency to optimally leverage the installed infrastructure capacity. The operations team has initiated an operational improvement strategy aimed at enhancing management systems, improving mining and engineering processes and associated support service functions. The combination of these interventions, inherent face flexibility and ongoing gains in operational maturity and experience position the operation well to achieve steady state in 2022.

Concentrator upgrade projects

Steady progress was made with the Maseve MF2 upgrade during 2021. However, project progress was negatively impacted by remedial civil works required on the secondary mill base during the first half of the year and ongoing manufacturing, construction and commissioning delays experienced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. During the reporting period all civil, mechanical, electrical, structural and instrumentation works related to the secondary mill and associated flotation circuit were completed. Final piping works are set to be completed during the first quarter of 2022 with final circuit tie-in and commissioning now forecast for the second quarter of 2022. Capital expenditure on this project for 2021 amounted to R204 million, bringing the total capital expenditure for the project to date to R428 million.

Construction and civil works to expand BRPM's TSF continued steadily during the reporting period. Key project works completed include:

  • Tailings storage basin excavation and civil works
  • Return water dam
  • Lifting of the waste rock starter wall to its final height
  • Decant towers and associated piping

The TSF completion date remains quarter one of 2022. Capital expenditure for the TSF upgrade amounted to R192 million during the reporting period, bringing the total capital expenditure for the project to date to R390 million.

MORE THAN MINING

Developing a resilient operating culture is a non-negotiable objective if we are to attain our business imperative of achieving zero harm. During the year under review, we saw declines in our safety performance of 47.4% for our lost time injury frequency rate, 65.9% for our serious injury frequency rate and 26.1% for our total injury frequency rate, from the record safety milestones we achieved in 2020. Regrettably, we lost one of our employees on 12 May 2021 when Mr MZ Mavie was fatally injured in a fall of ground incident at BRPM's North shaft. We remain confident that our safety strategy and associated safety initiatives will allow us to deliver on our commitment to ensure the safety of our employees.

The protocols we put in place in 2020 to protect the health and wellness of our employees during the Covid-19 pandemic remained in place during 2021. RBPlat applied for and obtained a permit to provide vaccinations to both the community and our own employees. We are currently operating a vaccination site for our employees at the Maseve field hospital site. We also have vaccination sites at both BRPM's North and South shafts, and Styldrift. By year-end we had vaccinated 83% of our employees.

Our transformation strategy's targets are designed to meet and exceed the Mining Charter III equity targets. The steps we are taking to achieve this include a major focus on providing education opportunities for young historically disadvantaged (HD) South Africans, developing the black talent that is part of our workforce and introducing new black talent into our workforce. Succession planning ensures we build a pipeline of skills that ensures we have the necessary skills available when required. Our planning also includes addressing our strategy to increase the number of women in leadership positions and achieving our diversity and inclusion targets. 19.8% of our fulltime employees are women and 22% of our management team are women.

Our ESD focus remains on localising our supplier footprint and building capacity in our host communities and establishing set-aside procurement opportunities. In addition to our monthly business forum engagements, in May 2021 RBPlat held a strategic supplier leadership engagement with its top 100 strategic suppliers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), led by our Chief Executive Officer. A key focus of this engagement was on partnerships and collaboration and the role OEMs and strategic suppliers can play in the sustainability of host community businesses through the transfer of skills and skills development in these businesses. Our 2021 discretionary procurement from HD businesses amounted to R4 807.9 million, a 19.7% increase year-on-year and represents 86.3% of our total discretionary procurement. 41.8% of our total discretionary procurement was spent with HD local businesses, we have defined local as being within a 50km radius of our operations.

In 2014 RBPlat embarked on a housing development project in a high market area of Rustenburg intended to benefit all its employees. Designed as a town, Waterkloof Hills Estate is equipped with its own infrastructure, including reliable electricity, running water and adequate sanitation facilities. By 2021 more than 5 000 people were living in the estate. By 2019 the number of children living in the estate justified the construction of a primary and secondary school within the estate. We were able to partner with the North West Department of Education and RBPlat began work on the requisite civil works in the latter part of 2020 and construction of the school buildings began in 2021. The project team was made up of representatives from both the North West Department of Education and RBPlat who worked closely together to ensure the schools would be ready to receive learners in 2022. 378 learners have enrolled in the primary school and 368 learners have enrolled in the secondary school. These schools will ultimately accommodate 2 000 learners both from our estate and the neighbouring suburbs. 95% of the learners are the children of RBPlat employees who own homes in Waterkloof Hills Estate.

A RESPONSIBLE APPROACH TO THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

Our approach to environmental management is based on international best practice, legal compliance and maintaining our environmental and social licence to operate. We review our environmental impacts, risks and opportunities annually as part of our environmental management system and ensure environmental objectives are set for significant environmental impacts. Climate change is one of the critical global challenges of our time. RBPlat is committed to being part of the solution and acknowledges the fact that an urgent global response to the threat of climate change, across all areas of society and the economy is necessary. In 2021 we reviewed and approved our climate change policy and strategy and are in the process of developing a roadmap to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In 2020 we set ourselves five-year Group carbon intensity, energy and water efficiency targets. These targets are based on the 2018 baseline, with the aim of achieving a 10% reduction by 2024.

Our updated energy management strategy was approved in 2021 by the Board and implementation began this year. The bankable feasibility study for the construction of a modular solar photovoltaic (PV) plant which would introduce renewable energy into our energy mix, will be concluded in the first half of 2022. The environmental impact assessment process began in 2021. We are also studying other opportunities for the use of PV technology in our offices in 2022 in an effort to reduce our GHG emissions. We did not meet our energy efficiency target and achieved 0.407GJ/tonne milled compared to a target of 0.320GJ/tonne milled.

The substantial increase in our production during 2021 resulted in an overall increase of 14.4% in our GHG emissions. The 12.1% increase in tonnes hoisted and 16.0% increase in tonnes milled in our concentrators, resulted in a 14.6% increase in our Scope 2 indirect emissions produced during the generation of the electricity we purchase from Eskom. The work we are doing to introduce renewable energy into the energy mix and energy efficiency projects within our operations will in future help reduce our Scope 2 emissions. Our use of road transportation to deliver ore from Styldrift to the Maseve concentrator and UG2 ore from BRPM for toll treatment, contributed to a 33.8% increase in our indirect GHG emissions. Studies are under way regarding the construction of a conveyor to replace the use of road transportation between Styldrift and Maseve and reduce our Scope 3 GHG emissions. We did not meet our carbon intensity target and achieved 0.122 tCO2e/tonne milled compared to a target of 0.091 tCO2e/tonne milled.

Since establishing our water treatment plant in 2015, RBPlat has been able to achieve a measurable reduction in our consumption of potable water and in our water costs. During the year under review we treated 883.43Ml of industrial water in our treatment plant (2020: 626.51Ml) for use at the BRPM concentrator, replacing potable water. Since the commissioning of our water treatment plant in 2015 RBPlat has saved R52.3 million by replacing potable water with treated water for some of the processes in the BRPM concentrator. In 2021 we saved R11.3 million. We did not meet our water efficiency target and achieved 0.675kl/tonne milled compared to a target of 0.632kl/tonne milled. We are currently in the process of reviewing our water strategy.

Our voluntary participation in the CDP Climate Change allows RBPlat to measure its progress towards environmental stewardship and to benchmark and compare our progress against our peers and controls are put in place and implemented to address climate change risks and opportunities. The disclosures also assists us in continually improving our environmental performance. We achieved a B score for our voluntary disclosure for our climate change submission to the CDP in 2021 and an A- score for water security which was above the average score in the metals and mining sector of B- and an average global score of B.

CHANGES TO THE BOARD

Adv Kgomotso Moroka retired from the Board with effect from the Annual General Meeting held in April 2021 and Mr Obakeng Phetwe, a non-executive director of RBPlat since February 2018, assumed the role of the Board Chair. In addition Mr Mark Moffett, an independent non-executive director of RBPlat since September 2014, assumed the role of Lead Independent Director. Mr Udo Lucht, who was a non-executive director resigned from the Board during the last quarter of 2021. The Company announced the resignation of Mr Hanré Rossouw, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in July 2021. He will remain in his current role until 3 April 2022. Due to the current uncertainty, created by the ongoing corporate action the Company is engaged in, the Board decided to pause the appointment of Mr Rossouw's successor until we have clarity of direction. In the interim, the Board has appointed the Group's Head of Finance, Ms Rotshidzwa Manenzhe, as Acting CFO.

Our Chief Executive Officer, Mr Steve Phiri, was scheduled to retire post the Annual General Meeting in April 2022, however, due to the ongoing corporate action Mr Phiri has agreed to stay in his current position until certainty is achieved.

DECLARATION OF DIVIDEND

Guided by our dividend policy, and taking into account our strong balance sheet and cash flow generation in 2021, the Board declared a gross cash final dividend of 535.0 cents per share, equating to R1.5 billion. This is in addition to the interim dividend amounting to R1.5 billion declared in August 2021. This ensures that we remain in a strong position and are well-placed to continue making appropriate value-creating and disciplined investments in our business and sustainable capital returns to shareholders.

The dividend was declared from retained earnings and will be subject to a dividend withholding tax of 20% for all shareholders who are not exempt from or do not qualify for a reduced rate of withholding tax. The net dividend payable to shareholders subject to the withholding tax rate of 20% amounts to 428.0 cents per ordinary share. The issued share capital at the declaration date is 289 016 546 ordinary shares and the Company's tax number is 9512379166.

The salient dates relating to the dividend payment are as follows:

  • Declaration of dividend: Tuesday, 8 March 2022
  • Last day for trading to qualify and participate in the final dividend: Tuesday, 29 March 2022
  • Trading ex-dividend commences: Wednesday, 30 March 2022
  • Record date: Friday, 1 April 2022
  • Dividend payment date: Monday, 4 April 2022

Share certificates may not be dematerialised or rematerialised between Wednesday, 30 March 2022 and Friday, 1 April 2022 both days inclusive. Any changes to the dividend instruction will be announced on the JSE Stock Exchange News Service.

MARKET REVIEW

The platinum price outperformed palladium and rhodium in 2021, despite the price declining during the year, as the other PGM metal prices were even more volatile. Platinum exceeded US$1 300/oz in February for the first time in more than six years, but it subsequently retreated to below US$1 000/oz by year-end. Both rhodium and palladium reached record prices during the year of U$29 800/oz and U$2 994/oz, respectively. This was due to supply disruptions reducing market liquidity in the first half of the year. During the second half of the year the worsening semiconductor chip supply shortage reduced automotive demand while PGM supply improved and the price of palladium and rhodium declined. The rand began 2021 at R14.69 per US dollar and strengthened during the first half of the year. However, this strength was reversed during the second half with the rand ending the year at R15.94 per US dollar. In rand terms the platinum price averaged R16 092/oz, an increase of over R1 600/oz compared to 2020.

Platinum automotive demand reached 2.6Moz (gross) for 2021, with vehicle production and consumer demand recovering from the pandemic, however, this was offset by the semiconductor chip shortage. Demand growth was led by China and North America, where there is starting to be some substitution of palladium with platinum in gasoline three-way catalysts, while in Western Europe, the ongoing decline in diesel's share of light vehicles has negatively affected platinum demand. Palladium automotive demand reached 7.7Moz in 2021, an improvement on pandemic-affected 2020, but not back to pre-pandemic 2019 levels. Palladium remains sensitive to any changes in automotive production with over 80% of total palladium demand coming from autocatalysts. Rhodium automotive demand reached 940koz (gross) in 2021. The pressure on rhodium has been alleviated in the short term by lower vehicle production due to Covid-19 plant closures and the shortage of semiconductor chips for vehicles.

Platinum jewellery demand recovered to 1.8Moz (gross) in 2021, as consumer sentiment improved. However, further restrictions in key markets weighed on demand during the year, which led to demand remaining below 2019 levels. Retail sales rebounded in China as travel restrictions boosted consumer spending on luxury products instead of travel or entertainment in 2021.

Industrial requirements for platinum reached a record high of 2.1Moz in 2021, driven by robust growth in the petroleum, chemical and glass industries. Rising capacity for petroleum refining, chemical production and glass fabrication increased platinum demand throughout Asia, especially in China. Industrial requirements for palladium rebounded slightly to 1.6Moz, following growth in the chemical sector. Expansion of bulk chemical capacity in China lifted demand, while some price-induced substitution away from rhodium to palladium in chemical applications also supported growth. Prolonged high rhodium prices have prompted the substitution of rhodium out of much of the glass-making sector, in favour of platinum.

Platinum investment was mixed last year as ETF holdings fell by 262koz to 3.6Moz, while bar and coin investment was strong at over 300koz. ETF holdings reached a record 4.0Moz in the middle of the year, but with the platinum price declining in the second half of the year and platinum mining equities offering attractive yields, investors reduced their holdings. Coin purchases were robust with the US Mint increasing its mintage of platinum American Eagle coins to 75koz, up from 57koz in 2020. In Japan, the largest market for platinum bar purchases, after some disinvestment in the first quarter, purchases improved through the rest of the year as the price declined. In China, the platinum Panda coin, last minted in 2005, was released with the 2022 30g and 1g coins helping to meet strong demand. Palladium ETF holdings increased by 50koz in 2021, taking global holdings back up to 550koz.

Global refined platinum supply fully recovered to 6.4Moz in 2021, including the release of substantial work-in-process stock. South Africa's PGM operations adjusted well to Covid-19 protocols, and regional supply exceeded 2019 levels last year at 4.5Moz. Supply from Zimbabwe and North America also increased year-on-year, although disruption to operations in Russia resulted in 60koz less platinum production in the country in 2021 compared to 2020. Palladium mine supply was adversely affected by operational setbacks in Russia, with a 225koz reduction to the country's output in 2021. As a result, global refined production fell short of pre-pandemic levels, only recovering to 7.1Moz.

Secondary supply is estimated to have increased last year. High PGM prices in the first half of the year resulted in robust flows of material and capacity constraints at northern hemisphere refineries resulted in a processing backlog, which was cleared in the second half of the year. The semiconductor chip shortage that constrained new vehicle production resulted in high demand for second-hand vehicles. This caused rapid price increases for second-hand vehicles and the number being scrapped started to drop below what would normally be expected in late 2021.

PGMs continue to play a pivotal role in the development of the hydrogen economy on the path towards decarbonising several industrial and transport sectors, and achieving net zero by 2050. Proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers, containing iridium and platinum, are one of the leading commercial technologies for the production of green hydrogen, using renewable energy. Significant thrifting is expected, particularly of the iridium content, for this technology to be sustainable as electrolyser capacity is scaled-up worldwide. PEM fuel cell vehicles, containing platinum and some ruthenium, are expected to become a greater part of the powertrain mix, as a convenient and zero emissions alternative to the internal combustion engine, and typically with longer range and greater load carrying capacity than plug-in battery electric vehicles. In the near-term, fuel cell powertrains are mostly to be found in heavy-duty vehicles (trucks, buses, trains and even ships), while fuel cell passenger cars are expected to remain a small market for several years while combustion engines, including hybrids, and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are still competitive.

MARKET OUTLOOK

Global refined platinum production is forecast to fall marginally in 2022 to 6.3Moz, as 2021 was boosted by the release of significant volumes of work-in-process stock from South African operations. Including the remaining stock due to be processed in 2022, South Africa's supply is expected to decline marginally year-on-year to 4.6Moz, however, this is higher than pre- Covid-19 levels of production in 2019 (4.4Moz). Volumes from Russia have now recovered to full capacity, while ongoing ramp up at Zimbabwean mines is likely to lift production there. Global palladium supply is estimated to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, owing to Russia plus greater production in North America and Zimbabwe. Secondary PGM supply is expected to increase in 2022 but could be held back by lower scrappage rates. Although new vehicle production is forecast to be much higher this year, the second-hand market is likely to remain tight and vehicle scrappage rates could be depressed.

Automotive platinum demand is forecast to increase in 2022, sustained by tighter emissions standards and some substitution in China and in larger light vehicles in North America. Constrained availability of semiconductor chips to automakers is expected to continue to be a drag on all types of vehicle production affecting platinum, palladium and rhodium demand through 2022, though improvements are expected by H2'22 compared to H1'22. Additional chip manufacturing capacity is being built, with automakers working much more closely with the semiconductor industry, but will take many months to come onstream, as these are complex processes.

Palladium automotive demand is forecast to climb in 2022. Gasoline hybrid powertrains remain popular, with BEVs still a small part of the market in most regions, though longer term BEVs will increasingly take market share from gasoline-powered vehicles. China is expected to be the main engine of growth over the next few years, with tightening emissions standards and real world testing ahead. Automotive rhodium demand is forecast to increase again in 2022, as loadings increase further to ensure compliance with tighter emissions standards, and as light vehicle production continues to recover from disruptions due to Covid-19 and to the chip shortage. However, some thrifting and/or substitution to palladium is likely to be needed slightly further out to avert a deepening deficit.

Platinum jewellery consumption is estimated to decrease slightly this year, with flat demand in China, limited growth in India and lower requirements in the US. Demand in the US was temporarily boosted by strong diamond jewellery sales last year but is set to return to lower levels in 2022, while successive disruptions to the local jewellery industry have reduced expectations in India. Industrial demand for platinum is predicted to continue to increase in 2022, with further growth in the glass and chemical sectors. However, lower requirements in the chemical, electrical and dental industries are expected to reduce industrial demand for palladium.

If light vehicle production recovers as forecast, then the palladium and rhodium markets could return to deficit which would support historically high prices. The platinum market is predicted to have an industrial surplus and will need investment demand to absorb the excess metal.

OUTLOOK AND COMPANY GUIDANCE

There are signs of global economic recovery and the mobilisation of large resources, both locally and internationally, to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic through aggressive vaccination programmes and the revision of Covid-19 management protocols. However, we expect the 2022 operating environment to remain constrained, characterised by:

  • erratic economic growth and continued inflationary pressures resulting from ongoing disruptions of global supply chain processes
  • the continued risk of future waves of infection impacting operational continuity
  • potential production interruptions stemming from a fragile Eskom power supply grid

Delivering on our More than mining aspiration by focusing on the four core pillars of our strategy remains key to managing our business risks and unlocking economic value for all our stakeholders in this environment.

During 2022 Styldrift is planned to reach its steady state run rate and BRPM is expected to maintain its historic production volumes. BRPM South shaft is expected to fully transition to a UG2 operation while BRPM North shaft's delivered volumes are set to remain consistent with those of previous years. UG2 is expected to contribute approximately 58% of BRPM's total volumes.

Notwithstanding the continued uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing challenges with regard to the stability of the Eskom power supply, production guidance for 2022, subject to any unforeseen operational disruptions, is forecast to increase to between 4.65Mt and 4.90Mt at a 4E built-up head grade of 3.90g/t, yielding 485koz – 505koz 4E metals in concentrate. Group cash unit costs are forecast between R16 500 and R17 200 per 4E ounce.

Group capital expenditure for 2022, including escalation contingencies, is forecast to be approximately R2.3 billion with Styldrift replacement capital (R0.7 billion), the Maseve plant upgrade and the BRPM tailings storage facility upgrades (R0.5 billion) and the Styldrift expansion project auxiliary works (R0.2 billion), being the main drivers. SIB expenditure is expected to be between 10% and 11% of operating expenditure. The increase in 2022 SIB expenditure will mainly be attributable to the cyclical nature of the Styldrift trackless rebuild programme.