About Implats
Our operating
environment

How we go about creating value depends on successfully negotiating a dynamic operating context. Several global, regional and local issues have important implications for our business model and how we create and share value for the benefit of all our stakeholders.

MACRO-ECONOMIC FACTORS

The July 2019 update to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) World Economic Outlook, saw it lowering its global growth forecast to 3.2% in 2019 from the 3.3% forecast in April 2019, on slow first half growth, trade tensions and continued uncertainty about Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. The IMF report also downgraded the forecast for 2020 to 3.5% from 3.6%. A breakdown of countries showed growth results were weaker than expected for emerging markets and developing countries. In subSaharan Africa, the IMF expects growth of 3.4% in 2019 and 3.6% in 2020, on lacklustre performances from the region’s largest economies. Growth in South Africa is expected to be subdued after a very weak first quarter in 2019, reflecting a larger-than-anticipated impact of strike activity and energy supply issues in mining, and weak agricultural production.

Impact on value

  • Across emerging markets and developing economies, debt increased rapidly resulting in the need for strengthened fiscal policies to stabilise and spur economic recovery.
  • Debt containment is a growing imperative for governments, in the face of a critical need for infrastructure and social spending to mitigate social unrest.
  • Further escalation in trade tensions, rising geopolitical risks and policy uncertainty in major economies, could lead to a sudden deterioration in risk sentiment, which could see capital flows retreat from emerging market and frontier economies and impact negatively on commodity prices.

Our response

  • We remain cautious on a platinum price recovery given a sluggish growth in demand and a continued surplus and expect slight growth in the palladium and rhodium markets.
  • We have intensified in-country stakeholder engagement with governments at all levels.
  • We actively and continuously assess conditions in the countries where we sell our metals across all the key demand sectors.
  • Our market development activities are tailored to support key market segments and grow new areas of demand. We are aligned with and support key institutional partners (such as WPIC, PGI, IPA).
  • Relationships with key customers, globally, are grown and sustained.

REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA AND ZIMBABWE

The socio-political context in the countries in which we operate – South Africa and Zimbabwe – remains dynamic. There is considerably more regulatory certainty in both jurisdictions than in prior reporting years. Mining Charter III has provided a level of certainty in some aspects of South African mining policy, while in Zimbabwe the indigenisation policy has been relaxed.

Impact on value

  • Implats has established good relations with the South African government, and mining companies, working through the industry association Minerals Council South Africa, are engaging in constructive dialogue to come to mutually beneficial outcomes in terms of sticking points in Mining Charter III.
  • In Zimbabwe, the relaxation of the indigenisation policy has encouraged some investment inflows, while a proposed 15% tax on unrefined platinum exports was suspended until the end of 2022. In addition, during FY2019, Zimplats operated for its first year under the conditions of new converted mining rights and normalised tax provisions.

Our response

  • The Group remains committed to collaboration with all stakeholders to ensure an attractive and sustainable industry.
  • We fully support the South African and Zimbabwean governments’ aspirations to grow and transform their mining industries.
  • We continue to engage at all levels in both countries to encourage the growth and predictability necessary to ensure Implats continues its significant contribution to economic growth in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

PRICING, SUPPLY AND DEMAND

Muted metal prices over the past few years and negative sentiment related to anticipated weaker supply/demand fundamentals has been largely informed by slower diesel vehicle growth expectations, the projected rate with which the vehicle fleet could be electrified and slowing platinum jewellery sales in China.

While sentiment towards platinum remains subdued, palladium and rhodium fundamentals have strengthened significantly. Platinum pricing continues to struggle, but its discount to both palladium and rhodium is spurring efforts to reconsider the mix of metals used in gasoline light-duty catalysis.

Implats’ view is that while palladium supply growth is likely to outstrip that of platinum and rhodium over our forecast horizon, the market is likely to remain in a deep and structural deficit in the medium term.

Impact on value

  • Supply/demand fundamentals have a direct impact on metal prices and market sentiment, resulting in platinum prices remaining subdued, with palladium and rhodium prices growing strongly more recently.
  • Low metal prices have a direct impact on profitability, the generation of shareholder returns and our ability to fund and grow the business into the future.
  • The potential for prolonged, relatively flat platinum prices remains strong.
  • Palladium should continue to receive strong price support, incentivising a partial switch back to platinum use in the auto sector.
  • Platinum and palladium will continue to receive demand support from increasing emission regulations and growth in the global vehicle fleet in the short to medium term.

Our response

  • Implats uses conservative price forecasts, given muted platinum sentiment and global risk factors.
  • Group-wide cost-saving and turnaround initiatives have been implemented over the past four years.
  • To sustainably improve its competitive position, profitability and financial returns, Implats has committed to a value-over-volume focused strategy. The Group is reducing its exposure to higher-cost, labour intensive conventional operations to improve flexibility, capacity and sustainably generate attractive returns.
  • The strategic transformation of Impala Rustenburg is designed to unleash the value of the operation, for the benefit of all stakeholders, and for the long-term sustainability of the Group.
  • A maintained focus on cash conservation and strengthening the balance sheet.
  • Rigorous capital allocation criteria with a focus on low-cost, palladium-rich, mechanisable assets.

AUTOMOTIVE AND JEWELLERY MARKETS

Platinum demand declined by 5.3% in calendar 2018 due to declining light-duty diesel vehicle sales in Western Europe and weaker Chinese jewellery demand, despite robust industrial offtake.

LMC Automotive reported that sales of light-duty vehicles were down 0.5% from 2017, representing the first annual decline in global sales since 2009. Meanwhile, Platinum Guild International (PGI) reported that the performance in China continues to disappoint, with the estimated jewellery decline accelerating in late 2018. In total, PGI forecasts a manufacturing demand decline of 14% year-on-year, with a drop in both gifting and self-purchase categories. In addition, there was weakening in the core bridal market, which faced increasing competition from white gold due to the variety and innovation emanating from manufacturers better equipped to meet changing consumer demand.

Impact on value

  • The decline in Chinese jewellery demand is one factor driving negative sentiment around platinum, affecting price and investment decisions.
  • A wholesale change to different vehicle technologies will impact the demand for our metals with consequent metal price impacts.
  • Pure battery EV development will have a larger impact on value.
  • The impact on value from hybrid electric/internal combustion engines will be less significant.

Our response

  • We continue to focus on maintaining our visibility and marketing spend in China through the PGI, focusing on platinum bridal jewellery at bridal fairs in Tier 1 cities.
  • The EV market is overestimating the negative impact of powertrain electrification on platinum demand in the long term. The move towards EVs can only be answered by having a large part of the vehicle fleet as hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, all of which contain PGMs.
  • Diesel technology remains essential to reducing global vehicle fleet greenhouse gas emissions.
  • We continue to support the International Platinum Association (IPA) in their engagement with and lobbying of automotive-related policymakers and local and national governments.
  • Long-term, we expect a growing hydrogen economy and the increasing adoption and advancement of fuel cell vehicles.
 

MEETING STAKEHOLDER EXPECTATIONS

Platinum miners continue to face challenging stakeholder expectations. Government seeks enhanced transformation, job creation and taxes from a shrinking mining sector. Communities, frustrated with rising unemployment and inequality and poor service delivery, turn increasingly to private sector employers to meet their expectations. Organised labour seeks to meet its mandate of securing better conditions and higher wages for members from a resources sector facing significant challenges. For its part, the investment community is seeking an attractive return on investment. The phased restructuring at Impala Rustenburg compounds this situation, as labour rationalisation is inevitable.

Impact on value

  • Stakeholder expectations and our response to these have a significant impact on our legal and social licence to operate, which in turn could impact on investment decisions and the Company’s bottom line.
  • The section 189 processes in place at Impala Rustenburg, as well as the wage negotiations, increase tensions with union shop stewards and head office officials, leading to increased labour action risks.
  • Retrenchment has the potential to damage the trust relationship with the Department of Mineral Resources.

Our response

  • We continue to implement rigorous and effective stakeholder engagement strategies, to build and maintain value-enhancing relations with all key stakeholders, to create sustainable shared value and to secure our social licence to operate.
  • Implats has developed supporting systems, processes, policies, targeted engagement and communication plans to this end.
  • In all cases where job loss avoidance measures are not successful, Impala Rustenburg is committed to implementing the required changes in consultation with all social partners to mitigate the socio-economic impacts as far as possible.
  • Discussions are ongoing with key stakeholders, including government and the relevant trade union representatives, on the restructuring and wage negotiations – to secure the future viability of the Group to the benefit of all stakeholders.

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP

Our activities associated with the exploration, extraction and processing of Mineral Resources result in the unavoidable disturbance of land, the consumption of resources and the generation of waste and atmospheric and water pollutants. We also operate in a region afflicted by power and water shortages and an ever-increasing cost for their supply.

Impact on value

  • Scarcity of water in the region and insecurity of power supply impacts our ability to operate effectively and the increasing cost of resources has a negative impact on profitability.
  • There is also an indirect impact on our social licence to operate as we share these resources with local communities.
  • Growing regulatory and social pressure, increasing demands for limited natural resources and the changing costs of energy and water all highlight the business imperative of responsible environmental management.

Our response

  • Implats has an environmental policy that commits the Group to conducting its exploration, mining, processing and refining operations in an environmentally responsible way and to ensure the well-being of its stakeholders.
  • The policy also commits to integrating environmental management into all aspects of the business with the aim of achieving world-class environmental performance in a sustainable manner.
  • We work actively with all stakeholders to conserve natural resources.
  • Measures have been taken to address security of resource supply – for example through efficiency, recycling and fuel-switching – and to actively minimise our impacts on natural resources and on the communities around our operations.
  • These measures have direct benefits in terms of reduced costs and liabilities, enhanced resource security and the improved security of our licence to operate.