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African Rainbow Minerals (JSE: ARI).

African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) is a leading South African diversified mining and minerals company with long-life, low unit cost operations. ARM mines and beneficiates iron ore, manganese ore, chrome ore, platinum group metals, copper, nickel and coal. ARM also produces manganese and chrome alloys and has an investment in gold through its shareholding in Harmony.

ARM is a public company listed on the JSE Limited (JSE). The Company complies with the JSE Listings Requirements, applicable statutes, regulatory requirements and other authoritative directives regulating its conduct. In addition, ARM abides by the principles set out in the King Report on Corporate Governance in South Africa 2009 (King III), which came into effect for JSE-listed companies for financial years ending after 1 March 2011, save for the exceptions noted in this report. ARM complies with additional good governance principles, which qualified the Company for inclusion in the JSE's Socially Responsible Investment Index in 2010.

http://www.arm.co.za/a/profile.php

INTERIM RESULTS FOR THE SIX MONTHS ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2017

16 March 2018

Salient features

* Headline earnings increased by 15% to R1 945 million compared to R1 693 million in the corresponding period (1H F2017). Headline earnings per share were 1 023 cents (1H F2017: 893 cents).

* Maiden interim dividend of 250 cents per share declared.

* Basic earnings were R1 753 million (1H F2017: R254 million basic loss). The basic loss in 1H F2017 included an attributable impairment of the Nkomati Mine and Modikwa Mine assets of R711 million and R734 million after tax and non-controlling interest, respectively.

* Higher US Dollar prices were realised for all commodities in ARM's portfolio except iron ore, platinum and chrome concentrate. The average realised Rand/US Dollar exchange rate strengthened by 4% to R13.39/US$ (1H F2017: R13.98/US$).

* Disposal of ARM and Vale's 80% interest in Lubambe Mine was completed on 22 December 2017.

* ARM's interest in Two Rivers Mine increased to 54% from 9 November 2017 after the mine's amended mining right was executed by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).

* Cash dividends received from the Assmang joint venture were R1 000 million (1H F2017: R988 million). Since the period end, ARM received a cash dividend of R2 000 million from Assmang (in February 2018).

* Net debt reduced to R1 102 million (31 December 2016: R3 508 million).

Overview

The ARM Board of Directors (the Board) announces a 15% increase in headline earnings for the six months ended 31 December 2017 to R1 945 million (1H F2017: R1 693 million). This increase was mainly as a result of improved headline earnings from the Manganese Division, ARM Coal, Modikwa Mine and ARM Copper.

As part of ARM's commitment to shareholder returns, ARM declared a maiden interim dividend of 250 cents per share.

ARM Ferrous headline earnings from continuing operations of R1 765 million were 26% higher (1H F2017: R1 401 million) driven mainly by a 131% increase in headline earnings from the Manganese Division. Significant improvement in the Manganese Division's earnings was mainly due to increased manganese ore and alloy sales volumes, proportionately more high-grade manganese ore being sold (which resulted in higher average realized manganese ore prices) as well as a 69% increase in manganese alloy prices.

ARM Ferrous headline earnings (including discontinued operations) of R 1 779 million in 1H F2017 included a nonrecurring amount of R378 million relating to the sale of ARM'S effective 50% stake in the Dwarsrivier Mine (which was disclosed as a discontinued operation in 1H F2017).

ARM Platinum headline earnings increased by 26% to R226 million (1H F2017: R179 million) as Modikwa Mine improved from a headline loss of R54 million in 1H F2017 to headline earnings of R36 million. Two Rivers Mine headline earnings were 16% lower at R173 million (1H F2017: R205 million) mainly as a result of a decrease in PGM volumes due to a reduction in grades at the mine. Nkomati Mine reported reduced headline earnings as a result of lower sales volumes due to shipment delays. Chrome concentrate sales volumes at Nkomati Mine increased by 105%, however, the average US Dollar price realised for chrome concentrate was 62% lower.

ARM Coal headline earnings were R160 million (1H F2017: R99 million). Goedgevonden (GGV) Mine contributed headline earnings of R35 million (1H F2017: R26 million headline loss) while the PCB operations contributed headline earnings of R125 million (1H F2017: R125 million).

ARM Copper, which is disclosed as a discontinued operation in the period under review, recorded a headline loss of R6 million for the period (1H F2017: R72 million headline loss).

The ARM Corporate and other segment showed an improved headline loss of R200 million (1H F2017: R292 million). The improvement is mainly made up of:

* a decrease in foreign exchange losses of R145 million on the revaluation of ARM'S US Dollar loans to Lubambe Mine prior to and on the disposal of Lubambe Mine;

* R60 million lower bonus provision raised; and

* higher management fee income of R28 million.

The above was partly offset by a R170 million higher income tax expense recorded for 1H F2018.

The ARM Corporate and other segment includes ARM Exploration costs of R10 million (1H F2017: R12 million).

These results have been achieved in conjunction with ARM'S partners at the various operations, Anglo American Platinum Limited (Anglo Platinum), Assore Limited (Assore), Impala Platinum Holdings Limited (Implats), Norilsk Nickel Africa (Pty) Ltd (Norilsk), Glencore South Africa (Glencore), Vale S.A. (Vale) and Zambian Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH).

The interim results for the six months ended 31 December 2017 have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the disclosures are in accordance with IAS 34: Interim Financial Reporting.

Rounding of figures may result in minor computational discrepancies on the tabulations.

Operating safely

ARM is committed to creating a safe and healthy work environment for all employees.

Regrettably an employee, Mr Fabian Majora, was fatally injured when he was exposed to irrespirable atmosphere underground at Modikwa Mine on 9 October 2017. The Board and management express their sincerest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr Majora. Prior to this accident, ARM'S operations had been fatality-free since May 2015.

The Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) for 1H F2018 was 0.41 per 200 000 man-hours (1H F2017: 0.33). There were 51 Lost Time Injuries (LTIs) for the six months under review compared to 37 in the corresponding period.

Safety achievements in the period under review:

* On 3 July 2017, Modikwa Mine completed 4 million fatality-free shifts.

* On 18 August 2017, Two Rivers Mine completed 4 million fatality-free shifts.

* On 18 October 2017, Beeshoek Mine recorded 16 000 fatality-free production shifts and received a certificate from the DMR for an outstanding safety achievement as the "Most Consistent Surface Mine" in the 2017 Northern Cape Mine Safety Competition.

* On 7 November 2017, Nkomati Mine achieved 6 million fatality-free shifts. Safety figures and statistics in this report are presented on a 100% basis and exclude the ARM Coal operations which are managed by ARM'S partner.

Corporate transactions

The disposal of Lubambe Mine was completed on 22 December 2017 when all conditions precedent was met. Lubambe Mine is disclosed as a discontinued operation in terms of IFRS. The 1H F2017 Income Statement has, therefore, been re-presented.

The 1H F2017 results included income from the discontinued chrome operation relating to the sale of ARM'S effective 50% interest in Dwarsrivier Mine. Machadodorp Works is the only remaining operation in Assmang's Chrome Division.

Further to the consent received by Two Rivers Mine during August 2017 (i) to transfer the Tamboti rights to it, and (ii) to have Two Rivers Mine's mining right amended accordingly, the amended mining right was executed. This resulted in ARM'S interest in Two Rivers Mine increasing from 51% to 54% from 9 November 2017.

Restructuring loss-making operations

Lubambe Mine

The total cash proceeds, in respect of the disposal of ARM and Vale's 80% interest in Lubambe Mine was US$97.10 million adjusted for:

* settlement of Lubambe Mine's general banking facility of US$26 million;

* payment of property transfer tax of US$10 million;

* payment of withholding tax of US$5 million; and

* reimbursement of funding provided to Lubambe Mine after 1 May 2017 of US$25 million.

The final proceeds were received by ARM and Vale in December 2017. Refer to note 12 to the financial statements for more details.

Nkomati Mine

Nkomati Mine headline earnings were 39% lower than the corresponding period mainly as a result of reduced sales volumes due to shipping delays. Nkomati Mine's tonnes milled increased by 14% to 4.08 million tonnes. Nickel units produced were, however, only 2% higher as insufficient availability of high-grade MMZ ore and the processing of Very Low Grade (VLG) MMZ stockpile material resulted in a reduction of the mine's head grade from 0.28% to 0.24%. Nickel produced was 6 733 tonnes (1H F2017: 6 627 tonnes) while by-products PGM and copper volumes increased by 37% and 38% respectively.

As previously reported, Nkomati Mine is in a challenging period which is expected to continue until the end of F2020. Increased waste stripping is required to increase mining flexibility and the pit requires piling work to improve slope stability.

Construction of pile wall 2 in the Western Section to improve slope stability was completed in the period under review and the mine continues to progress with buttressing work. Waste stripping continues to be a challenge. In the period under review waste mined was lower than planned at 11 million tonnes due to rescheduling and reallocation of equipment between the Eastern and Western sections of the pit. Waste stripping is expected to remain challenging at an annualized rate of approximately 23 million tonnes per annum (compared to the 27 million tonnes per annum required to ensure mining flexibility). This is expected to impact nickel volumes to F2020.

Modikwa Mine

Modikwa Mine headline earnings of R36 million represent a turnaround from the R54 million headline loss reported for 1H F2017. Modikwa Mine delivered a 16% increase in PGM volumes.

The South 2 Shaft Project is advancing well. The first phase of the project is expected to enhance mining flexibility while also contributing to the overall production build-up of the mine. Phase one of the project has been completed and is expected to take the production capacity to 50 000 tonnes of ore per month by F2019.

ARM Coal

Negotiations with Glencore to restructure the ARM Coal debt to improve ARM'S obligations in terms of these loans are ongoing.

Changes to Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves

There has been no material change to ARM'S Mineral Resources and Reserves as disclosed in the Integrated Annual Report for the financial year ended 30 June 2017, other than depletion due to continued mining activities at the operations with the exception of:

* Lubambe Mine Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves which are no longer reported by ARM after completion of the disposal of ARM'S interest in December 2017.

* Two Rivers Mine, where the transfer of Tamboti Platinum (Kalkfontein RE portion) was completed in November 2017.

* The Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves of the Kalkfontein RE portion will now be reported as part of Two Rivers Mine, and in terms of the agreement, ARM'S attributable interest in Two Rivers Mine will increase from 51% to 54%.

An updated Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves Statement will be issued in the Company's F2018 Integrated Annual Report.

Financial commentary

Earnings

Headline earnings for the six-month period to 31 December 2017 were R1 945 million or 15% higher than the corresponding period's headline earnings (1H F2017: R1 693 million). This equates to headline earnings per share of 1 023 cents (1H F2017: 893 cents).

Basic earnings for 1H F2018 were R1 753 million (1H F2017: R254 million basic loss) and were impacted by an aftertax and non-controlling interest loss on the disposal of Lubambe Mine of R179 million. The 1H F2017 basic loss included:

* an attributable impairment of the Nkomati assets of R711 million after tax;

* an attributable impairment of the Modikwa assets of R734 million after tax and non-controlling interest; and

* an impairment loss of R422 million within the Assmang joint venture related to the sale of Dwarsrivier Mine.

The reconciliation of basic earnings to headline earnings is provided in note 8 to the financial statements. Basic earnings per share increased from a basic loss of 134 cents to basic earnings of 922 cents.

Sales from continuing operations for the reporting period were 2% higher in 1H F2018 at R4 260 million (1H F2017: R4 176 million). Sales for ARM Ferrous increased by 12% to R6 816 million (1H F2017: R6 088 million).

The average gross profit margin increased to 19% (1H F2017: 16%). The gross profit margins achieved at each operating division may be ascertained from the detailed segment reports provided in note 2 to the financial statements.

ARM'S earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) from continuing operations, excluding Special items and income from associates and joint ventures, were R999 million (1H F2017: R693 million). This is 44% (R306 million) higher than 1H F2017, largely as a result of higher EBITDA contributions from ARM Platinum (R16 million), ARM Coal (R93 million) and ARM Corporate (R230 million), respectively.

The income from joint venture (ARM Ferrous) was R1 765 million (1H F2017: R1 356 million) after special items and is 30% higher than the corresponding period. The detailed and expanded segmental contribution analysis is provided in note 2 to the financial statements.

Exchange rate

The 1H F2018 average Rand/US Dollar was R13.39/US$ (1H F2017: R13.98/US$). For reporting purposes, the closing exchange rate at 31 December 2017 was R12.29/US$ (31 December 2016: R13.73/US$).

Cash

At 31 December 2017 cash and cash equivalents were R1 919 million (31 December 2016: R1 335 million) the details of which are reflected in note 5 to the financial statements. This excludes the attributable cash and cash equivalents held at ARM Ferrous (50% of Assmang) of R3 198 million (31 December 2016: R2 588 million).

Dividends paid to ARM shareholders in October 2017 were R1 236 million (1H F2017: R426 million).

Capital expenditure was 23% (R114 million) higher at R603 million for the period (1H F2017: R489 million). Attributable capital expenditure at the Assmang joint venture was flat at R558 million (1H F2017: R555 million).

Debt

Gross debt at the end of the period was 38% lower than the corresponding period at R3 021 million (31 December 2016: R4 843 million). This was mainly due to a reduction in the amount owing on the ARM Corporate facility as well as the discontinued consolidation of the Vale/ARM joint operation loans following the disposal of Lubambe Mine. There was no debt at ARM Ferrous at 31 December 2017 (31 December 2016: nil).

The decrease in gross debt coupled with the proceeds received from the disposal of investments of R741 million resulted in a reduced net debt at 31 December 2017 of R1 102 million (31 December 2016: R3 508 million).

Assets

The consolidated ARM total assets of R32.5 billion (1H F2017: R31.7 billion) include ARM'S investment in Harmony on 31 December 2017 of R1 444 million (31 December 2016: R2 006 million). Harmony's share price was R22.69 per share at 31 December 2017 (31 December 2016: R31.53 per share, 30 June 2017: R21.68 per share and 30 June 2016: R52.47 per share).

Events after the reporting date

Events after the reporting date are set out in note 16 to the financial statements. Since 31 December 2017, ARM received a dividend of R2 000 million from Assmang.

ARM Ferrous

ARM Ferrous headline earnings from continuing operations were 26% higher from R1 401 million in 1H F2017 to R1 765 million. This increase was primarily due to a 131% increase in the Manganese Division headline earnings as a result of:

* a 10% increase in manganese ore sales volumes;

* proportionately more high-grade manganese ore being sold after the completion of the Ncwhaning II Shaft upgrade which resulted in a 24% increase in average realised US Dollar prices for export manganese ore;

* 17% increase in manganese alloy sales volumes as Sakura Ferroalloys Project ramped up; and

* a 69% increase in manganese alloy prices.

Headline earnings (including discontinued operations) were 1% lower at R1 765 million (1H F2017: R1 779 million) as the 1H F2017 headline earnings included R378 million relating to the sale of ARM'S effective 50% interest in Dwarsrivier Chrome Mine (which was disclosed as a discontinued operation in 1H F2017).

Average realised US Dollar prices for export iron ore were flat compared to 1H F2017.

Headline earnings attributable to ARM 1 765 1 779 (1)

* The 1H F2017 chrome division headline earnings include R756 million relating to the sale of ARM'S effective 50% stake in the Dwarsrivier Chrome Mine.

Higher sales volumes across all the Ferrous commodities also contributed positively to headline earnings.

Iron ore sales volumes were 4% higher at a record 9.1 million tonnes (1H F2017: 8.8 million). Of the 9.1 million tonnes sold, 7.4 million tonnes were exported and 1.7 million tonnes were sold locally. The rail link established from Beeshoek Mine to the Saldanha Export Channel has created additional flexibility for Beeshoek Mine to access the export market.

Manganese ore sales volumes increased by 10% from 1.4 million tonnes in 1H F2017 to 1.6 million tonnes in 1H F2018.

Of the 1.6 million tonnes sold 1.5 million tonnes were exported. Production volumes at Black Rock Mine increased by 43% as the Nchwaning II Shaft returned to full production after being out of commission for the entire duration of 1H F2017 as part of the shaft's refurbishment.

Total manganese alloy sales volumes increased by 17% to 162 thousand tonnes (1H F2017: 139 thousand tonnes) as the Sakura Ferroalloys Project (Sakura) ramped up. Manganese alloy production at Sakura increased from 68 thousand tonnes to 122 thousand tonnes as both furnaces became fully operational. Good operational management and improved availability of furnaces also contributed positively to production volumes at this operation.

At Cato Ridge Works, alloy production increased by 2% to 68 thousand tonnes, however, sales volumes were 35% lower at 57 thousand tonnes as spot sales from Cato Ridge Works were held back in 1H F2018 to enable the plant to deliver on contract sales to consignment customers in the United States. Due to this, consignment stocks were high at 31 December 2017. These stocks are all committed and contracted to be sold.

Machadodorp Works is currently only recovering ferrochrome from the slag dump through the metal recovery plant and will start to recover ferromanganese from the slag dumps.

Unit production costs at all the Ferrous operations continue to be under pressure mainly owing to increases in the costs of labour, electricity and raw materials. Various cost saving initiatives continue to be implemented.

On-mine unit production costs at the iron ore operations were well managed. On-mine unit production costs at Khumani Mine were kept flat at R201 per tonne compared to the corresponding period while Beeshoek Mine achieved a 5% reduction in on-mine unit production costs.

Black Rock on-mine unit production costs increased by 23% from R434 per tonne in 1H F2017 to R534 per tonne in 1H F2018. On-mine unit production costs had reduced by 11% from R489 per tonne in 1H F2016 to R434 per tone in 1H F2017 mainly due to the exclusion of fixed costs of R188 million from on-mine production costs. The R188 million was not included in on-mine production costs as Nchwaning II Shaft was closed for the entire duration of 1H F2017, the on-mine production costs therefore could not be attributed directly to production volumes due to the shaft closure.

The mine's 1H F2018 total on-mine production costs were 76% higher compared to 1H F2017 while production volumes were 43% higher compared to the previous period.

The increase in Black Rock Mine unit cost of sales was below inflation at 5%.

ARM Ferrous cost and EBITDA margin performance

At Beeshoek Mine, the capital expenditure was R182 million, mainly due to waste-rock removal from the Village Pit as well as replacement of mining equipment. Khumani Mine's capital expenditure was R426 million, consisting mainly of waste stripping at King Pit, infill drilling, and replacement of mining equipment and fleet.

At Black Rock Mine, capital expenditure was R540 million, consisting mainly of the Black Rock Project, fire protection, finalising the construction of the Hotazel Rail Link line and replacement of mining equipment and fleet.

Projects

Black Rock Project

The modernisation project at Black Rock Mine is continuing on time and within budget. Ramp up of production volumes from the project will proceed as planned in close synchronisation with Transnet.

The new load-out facility and rail loop system have been completed and are being commissioned.

The underground silo and the Graben conveyor system at Nchwaning II Shaft is still under construction and is progressing as planned. The underground work will take a further 24 months to complete where after an increase in production output from Nchwaning II Shaft can be expected.

Logistics

Assmang's manganese ore export volumes are fully contracted with Transnet for F2018 and F2019 through both the Port Elizabeth and Saldanha export channels. In terms of the long-term allocation, Assmang is in ongoing negotiations with Transnet to synchronise the ramp up of Black Rock Mine with the medium- and longer-term (MECA2 and MECA3) Transnet capacity process.

Transnet provided the regular service on the iron ore export supply route from the Khumani Mine to the Port of Saldanha.

Assmang continued to support a junior iron ore producer and exporter by loading rail wagons at its Khumani Mine load-out facility.

The ARM Ferrous operations, held through its 50% investment in Assmang, consist of three divisions: iron ore, manganese and chrome. Assore Limited, ARM'S partner in Assmang, owns the remaining 50%.

ARM Platinum

ARM Platinum's attributable headline earnings increased by 26% to R226 million (1H F2017: R179 million), mainly as a result of a sharp rise in the Rand palladium (34%), rhodium (72%) and copper (26%) prices and improved volumes from Modikwa Mine.

Average Rand metal prices

Lower PGM production at Two Rivers Mine (14%) was offset by an increase at Modikwa Mine (16%) and Nkomati Mine (37%), resulting in ARM Platinum's PGM ounces (on a 100% basis) improving by 3% to 422 104 6E ounces (1H F2017: 407 846 6E ounces).

Nkomati Mine's nickel production increased slightly to 6 733 tonnes (1H F2016: 6 627 tonnes) as a result of higher tones milled (14%) and improved recoveries at the PCMZ concentrator plant. Nickel sales were however 31% lower than the corresponding period due to shipping delays in December 2017.

Unit production costs were well controlled at Modikwa and Nkomati mines with both mines achieving below inflation unit cost increases. Unit production costs at Two Rivers Mine were flat on a Rand per tonne basis but increased by 14% on a Rand per PGM ounce basis, mainly as a result of the lower PGMs produced due to grade decline.

Capital expenditure at ARM Platinum operations (on a 100% basis) decreased by 10% to R644 million (1H F2017: R718 million).

At Modikwa Mine, the North Shaft execution project recommenced in September 2017. The development team took delivery of re-built equipment and development commenced in November 2017. This resulted in Modikwa Mine's capital expenditure increasing by 36% to R218 million (1H F2017: R160 million).

Of the capital spent at Two Rivers Mine, 24% is associated with fleet replacement and refurbishment. The deepening of the Main and North declines, together with its electrical and mechanical installations, comprised 60% of the total capital expenditure.

Nkomati Mine's capital expenditure was mainly for the replacement of the Onverwacht Tails line (R51 million), as well as continued construction of the second anchored pile wall (R24 million). Capitalised waste stripping costs decreased by R250 million or 69% due to rescheduling and reallocation of equipment between the Eastern and Western sections. Waste stripping was also negatively affected by constraints in the pit as the Western Section was being stabilised with pile wall 2 construction. The mine is continuing with buttressing work in the area. Waste stripping volumes were 11 million tons in 1H F2018 and will be accelerated in the last quarter of F2018 to an annualized rate of 23 million tonnes. The mine has re-evaluated the accelerated waste stripping plan and reduced planned waste stripping volumes to 23 million tonnes per annum. This is expected to impact nickel volumes produced in the current financial year, F2019 and F2020.

Two Rivers Mine

Headline earnings at Two Rivers Mine reduced by 16% to R173 million (1H F2017: R205 million). A 2% decrease in tonnes milled and an 8% reduction in grade, led to PGMs produced declining by 14% to 178 702 6E ounces (1H F2017: 207 147 6E ounces).

The decrease in tonnes milled can be ascribed to a two-day safety-related stoppage at the plant while the decline in head grade is largely attributed to an increase in split reef proportion in the ore mix following the depletion of normal reef in the upper levels of both the Main and North declines. There is currently limited flexibility in blending the ore from split reef and normal reef sources due to face length constraints at Main Decline. Thick areas of split reef are expected to continue affecting the overall mining grade negatively for the next 14 months, resulting in overall mining grades being between 3.70 and 3.80 6E grams per tonne (1H F2017: 3.85 6E grams per tonne). To mitigate the declining grade, there is a drive to increase mining volumes from high-grade panels to enhance the ore mix as well as undercutting the internal waste wherever practically possible.

An attempt to scalp internal waste, both underground and on surface, by means of burden controls within the UG2 internal waste band and the 'waste scalper screen', has shown very limited improvement in grade due to the nature of fragmentation of internal waste (i.e. finer fragmentations).

The accelerated sinking at the Main Decline into the Tamboti area is in progress after the Two Rivers Mine amended mining right, including the Tamboti mining rights was executed by the DMR from 9 November 2017.

Chrome sales volumes decreased as a result of lower tonnes milled and lower grade. This, combined with a 27% decline in the Rand chrome price, resulted in chrome cash operating profit declining by 53% to R102 million (1H F2017: R218 million). Chrome concentrate sales volumes declined by 19% to 115 657 tones as a result of a lower chrome yield, a direct consequence of the lower PGM grade.

Unit production costs on a Rand per tonne milled basis were flat at R694 per tonne (1H F2017: R692 per tonne). The Rand per PGM ounce produced, however, increased by 14% to R6 655 per 6E ounce (1H F2017: R5 838 per 6E ounce), primarily as a direct result of the decline in PGM ounces produced due to the low grade. These unit production costs were flat compared to 2H F2017 which were R6 599 per 6E ounce. There was a 56 222 tonne decrease in the UG2 Run-of-Mine stockpile to a total of 251 663 tonnes of ore as at 31 December 2017.

Modikwa Mine

Modikwa Mine achieved attributable headline earnings of R36 million (1H F2017: R54 million headline loss). A 21% (216 thousand tonnes) increase in tonnes milled, offset by a 6% decrease in head grade, resulted in PGM production increasing by 16% to 175 899 6E ounces (1H F2017: 151 562 6E ounces). Of the 1.24 million tonnes milled, 94 thousand tonnes were purchased from Mototolo Platinum Mine. Modikwa Mine is working on a plan to reduce dilution and improve the grade.

Unit production costs increased by 3%, to R8 832 per 6E PGM ounce (1H F2017: R8 559 per 6E PGM ounce) and were lower on a Rand per tonne basis at R1 258 per tonne (1H F2017: R1 273 per tonne).

Production ramp up at South 2 Shaft has been slower than expected, however an upward trend has commenced particularly in the last quarter of the financial year. The focus remains on ramping production up at this shaft.

Nkomati Mine

Nkomati Mine generated attributable headline earnings of R17 million (1H F2017: R28 million) for the period under review.

The decline in earnings is due to lower nickel sales volumes (4 178 tonnes vs 6 079 tonnes) and a 62% decline in the Rand chrome price. Nkomati Mine had 11 thousand tonnes of nickel concentrate in stock as at 31 December 2017 due to shipping delays. The shipping schedule is expected to be back on track by April 2018. The shipping logistics are managed by Metals Trade Overseas AG.

Despite chrome concentrate sales volumes increasing by 105% to 198 928 tonnes (1H F2017: 96 821 tonnes), the chrome contribution to cash operating profit reduced by 27% to R118 million (1H F2017: R161 million) as a result of the lower chrome price realised.

Nkomati Mine's total tonnes milled increased by 14% to 4.08 million tonnes. Nickel units produced however, improved by only 2% to 6 733 tonnes (1H F2017: 6 627 tonnes). The main reasons for this are:

* Pit 3 mining operations remain constrained as a result of the historical mining inefficiencies and geotechnical issues, resulting in insufficient MMZ ore availability during the reporting period.

* Approximately 1 million tonnes of VLG MMZ stockpile material was processed during the period to complement the shortfall of MMZ, ensuring that both mills are operating at maximum capacity. The VLG MMZ material, with an average nickel grade of 0.17%, resulted in the average mill feed grade declining by 15%.

* The VLG material and MMZ ore contained significantly more PGMs and copper than anticipated, resulting in the production of these metals increasing by 37% and 38%, respectively, when compared to the period. The by-product content of this material is being evaluated as the mine continues to process more of it.

* Waste stripping on the Western Section of the pile wall commenced on 1 October 2017. A saprolite failure occurred which resulted in the mine having to re-evaluate the accelerated waste stripping plan. Planned waste stripping has therefore reverted back to the old life-of-mine plan. Waste stripping of 23 million tonnes per annum is planned which is expected to impact nickel volumes from F2018 to F2020.

Nkomati Mine's on-mine unit production cost (excluding capitalised waste stripping) was 22% higher at R311 per ton (1H F2017: R254 per tonne). The reduction in waste stripping volumes (as discussed above) resulted in unit cost per tonne milled (including capitalised waste stripping) declining by 5% to R339 per tonne (1H F2017: R356 per tonne). C1 unit cash cost net of by-products (which includes capitalised waste stripping cost) was 18% lower at US$4.95/lb (1H F2017: US$6.05/lb) of nickel produced. The decrease in C1 unit cash costs was due to higher by-product credits combined with decreased capitalised waste stripping costs. R114 million of waste stripping costs (1H F2017: R364 million) were capitalised during the period due to lower production.

Projects

Modikwa Mine

In order to maintain the current production profile and ramp-up the operation, Modikwa Mine initiated the North Shaft Deepening Project and the South 2 Shaft Project. The current status of these projects is detailed below:

* Deepening of North Shaft - This project entails the deepening of North Shaft from Level 7 to Level 9 thereby establishing three new mining levels. To curtail capital expenditure, portions of this project were deferred during F2015, resulting in current development being delayed at Level 9. Level 7 and 8 are both fully equipped with the entire required mining infrastructure. The chairlift installation was commissioned in February 2017.

* Sinking of South 2 Shaft - This project scope includes the establishment of a decline shaft system South of the current South Shaft Infrastructure. The first phase of the project is expected to enhance mining flexibility while also contributing to the overall production build-up of the mine. Phase one of the project has been completed and is expected to take the production capacity to 50 000 tonnes of ore per month by F2019. The second phase will follow and increase the design capacity of this shaft system to 100 000 tonnes per month.

The ARM Platinum division comprises:

Three operating mines:

* Modikwa - ARM Mining Consortium has an effective 41.5% interest in Modikwa where local communities hold an 8.5% effective interest. The remaining 50% is held by Anglo American Platinum.

* Two Rivers - an ARM subsidiary in which ARM has a 54% shareholding and Implats 46%. The increase in shareholding is effective 9 November 2017, when Two Rivers' amended mining right, including the mining rights transferred to it, was executed by the DMR.

* Nkomati - a 50:50 partnership between ARM and Norilsk Nickel Africa.

Two prospecting rights:

* the "Kalplats prospecting right" in which ARM Platinum holds 46% and Platinum Australia (PLA) holds 44%, with Anglo American holding 10%.

* the "Kalplats Extended Area prospecting right" in which ARM Platinum and PLA each have a 50% interest.

ARM Coal

ARM Coal's attributable headline earnings increased by 62% to R160 million (1H F2017: R99 million). This improvement was mainly due to the average realised US Dollar export prices being 20% higher compared to 1H F2017 with the realized price exceeding US$75 per tonne.

Seaborne coal prices were positively impacted by an increase in demand from India and China, largely due to gas supply shortages in China over the winter months. The impact of the higher prices was partially reduced by a strengthening of the average realised Rand/US Dollar exchange rate. Realised Rand prices increased from R873 per tonne in 1H F2017 to R1 000 per tonne in 1H F2018.

More than 70% of the export volumes at GGV Mine were high quality (RB1) coal while only 34% of PCB exports were RB1 quality. This resulted in PCB's average received export price being lower compared to GGV Mine.

ARM attributable saleable tonnes produced of 2.59 million tonnes were slightly higher than the 2.54 million tones produced in 1H F2017.

Goedgevonden (GGV) Mine

GGV Mine's attributable cash operating profit increased by 63% from R147 million in 1H F2017 to R240 million in 1H F2018.

Average received export US Dollar prices increased by 34% compared to 1H F2017. The impact of the higher prices was partially reduced by a 4% reduction in export sales volumes and a 4% strengthening of the Rand versus the US Dollar. This resulted in an increase in attributable export revenue of R86 million.

Production volumes at GGV Mine were 9% lower than 1H F2017 partially due to a rollover of low in-pit inventory levels from 2H F2017. The in-pit inventory levels have since improved during 1H F2018. Production was further impacted by safety related stoppages and community protests.

On-mine unit production costs per saleable tonne increased by 9% to R315, mainly as a result of a decrease in production volumes.

Attributable headline earnings increased by R61 million, from a headline loss of R26 million in 1H F2017 to headline earnings of R35 million in 1H F2018.

Participating Coal Business (PCB)

PCB attributable cash operating profit decreased by 5% to R511 million (1H F2017: R539 million).

An 11 % increase in average received US Dollar coal prices together with a 1 % increase in export coal sales volumes, improved revenue by R146 million. This was partially offset by a 4% strengthening of the Rand versus the US Dollar which negatively impacted revenue by R52 million. Revenue from inland coal sales was R31 million lower than the previous period, mainly due to a decrease in local coal sales volumes.

Unit production costs per saleable tonne increased by 22% from R273 per tonne in 1H F2017 to R334 per tonne in 1H F2018. On-mine production costs in the previous period benefited from processing of stockpile ore built up during the Tweefontein Optimisation Project (TOP). The Tweefontein operation has since stabilised and is now operating at the planned unit production costs which were estimated at approximately R300 per tonne. The 8% increase in saleable production together with the reduction in the benefits obtained from the low cost stockpile resulted in an increase in onmine costs of R142 million.

Headline earnings attributable to ARM were flat at R125 million.

Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited (Harmony)

Harmony reported a 49% increase in headline earnings to R990 million (1H F2017: R657 million) or 224 cents per share (1H F2017: 150 cents per share).

Revenue for the six months under review remained relatively flat in comparison to 1H F2017 as the average gold price received decreased by 1% to R580 672/kg (US$1 348/oz) and total gold sales increased by 2%. Forward gold sale contracts of 3 359kg or 108 OOOoz, with an average price of R692 836/kg (US$1 609/oz), matured during 1H F2018. This contributed R503 million (US$38 million) to revenue.

The hedging programmes realised gains of R771 million (US$58 million) for the December 2017 period. Management continues to top-up these programmes when the market presents attractive opportunities to do so. The gold hedging programme currently provides cover for approximately 19% of the expected gold production over the next two years. A summary of all the open hedging contracts is included in the Harmony 1H F2018 results published on 13 February 2018.

Production costs decreased by R264 million or 4% compared to the corresponding period. The decrease in Rand terms was mainly due to the capitalisation of production costs as a result of the re-investment into Hidden Valley.

Harmony's net profit for 1H F2018 was R897 million compared to R1 539 million for the comparative period which included a gain on bargain purchase of R848 million.

Harmony completed the acquisition of the Moab Khotsong operations effective 1 March 2018 - which includes the Great Noligwa underground mine and related infrastructure from AngloGold Ashanti Limited for a consideration of US$300 million in cash. The Moab Khotsong acquisition is expected to increase Harmony's cash flow from year one and unlock value by expanding the reserves and extending life-of-mine.

The Harmony investment is reflected on the ARM Statement of Financial Position at R1 444 million based on the Harmony share price at 31 December 2017 of R22.69 per share. Changes in the value of the investment in Harmony, to the extent that they represent a significant or prolonged decline below the cost of the investment, are adjusted through the Income Statement, net of tax. Gains are accounted for, net of deferred capital gains tax, through the Statement of Comprehensive Income. Dividends from Harmony are recognised in the ARM Income Statement on the last day of registration following dividend declaration.

Harmony's results for the six months ended 31 December 2017 can be viewed on Harmony's website at www.harmony.co.za.

ARM owns 14.3% of Harmony's issued share capital.

Outlook

US Dollar commodity prices for most of the commodities that ARM produces remain strong into 2H F2018. In particular, premiums for the high-quality iron ore and manganese ore appear to be underpinned by ongoing Chinese supply-side reforms, improved efficiencies in the Chinese steel industry and increasingly stringent environmental policies. Commodity prices are, however, expected to remain volatile.

Uncertainties into 2H F2018 include (i) the outlook for the Rand versus US Dollar exchange rate; (ii) changes in South African mining regulations; (iii) the dynamic socio-economic environment around mines; and (iv) above-inflation unit cost increases.

Re-engagement between government, the mining industry and other stakeholders on Mining Charter III is positive for the South African mining industry and is contributing towards improved investor sentiment. ARM continues to proactively manage cost pressures whilst ensuring efficient production levels to maximise profit margins.

We are also focused on the allocation of capital to ensure that a responsible balance is achieved between re-investment into the business, shareholder returns, maintaining a robust financial position and value enhancing growth. We are pleased to have declared a maiden interim dividend and will continue to consider interim and annual dividends taking into account amongst things our financial position, the outlook for our operations and commodity markets, capital expenditure and growth.

Further, ARM is committed to managing the impact of our mining activities on all stakeholders. We are committed to investing in ways that will ensure mutual benefit to surrounding communities, Government and the environments in which we operate.

ARM remains confident about the future of our business.

Dividends

The Board has approved and declared an interim dividend of 250 cents per share (gross) in respect of the six months ended 31 December 2017 (1H F2017: Nil). The amount to be paid is approximately R549 million.

This dividend is consistent with ARM'S commitment, as a globally competitive company, to pay dividends while retaining the ability to fund efficiency improvements and sustaining production.

The dividend will be subject to Dividend Withholding Tax. In accordance with paragraphs 11.17(a) (i) to (x) and 11.17(c) of the JSE Listings Requirements the following additional information is disclosed:

* The dividend has been declared out of income reserves;

* The South African Dividends Tax ("Dividends Tax") rate is 20%;

* The gross local dividend amount is 250 cents per ordinary share for shareholders exempt from the Dividends Tax;

* The net local dividend amount is 200.00000 cents per share for shareholders liable to pay the Dividends Tax;

* As at the date of this declaration ARM has 219 691 837 ordinary shares in issue; and

* ARM'S income tax reference number is 9030/018/60/1.

A gross dividend of 250 cents per ordinary share, being the dividend for the six months ended 31 December 2017 has been declared payable on Monday, 16 April 2018 to those shareholders recorded in the books of the Company at the close of business on Friday, 13 April 2018. The dividend is declared in the currency of South Africa. Any change in address or dividend instruction to apply to this dividend must be received by the Company's transfer secretaries or registrar not later than Friday, 13 April 2018. The last day to trade ordinary shares cum dividend is Tuesday, 10 April 2018. Ordinary shares trade ex-dividend from Wednesday, 11 April 2018. The record date is Friday, 13 April 2018 whilst the payment date is Monday, 16 April 2018.

No dematerialisation or rematerialisation of share certificates may occur between Wednesday, 11 April 2018 and Friday, 13 April 2018, both dates inclusive, nor may any transfers between registers take place during this period.

Review by independent auditors

The financial results for the six months ended 31 December 2017 have not been reviewed or audited by the Company's registered auditors, Ernst & Young Inc.

http://www.arm.co.za/im/files/results/SENS_interim_31dec17.pdf
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Title Annotation:Leading Companies
Publication:South Africa Mining
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Aug 8, 2019
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