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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 16:34 GMT
Angloplat reports record profits
Platinum mine
Platinum output grew by 13% last year
The world's biggest platinum producer, South Africa's Anglo American Platinum, has reported record annual profits.

But the earnings rise of 18% to 8bn rand (409m; $690m) looked less exciting once converted to US dollars, due to the recent fall in the value of South Africa's currency.

Platinum has a much broader industrial demand base than most commodities, there's always one sector of demand growing regardless of economic conditions

Barry Davidson
"The rand weakened quite considerably during the course of the year and that contributed very considerably to rand revenues," the company's chairman and chief executive, Barry Davidson, told the BBC's World Business Report.

Platinum is used for jewellery, catalytic converters in cars to make exhaust emissions cleaner, and in the production of computer memory disks.

The results were in line with analysts expectations and the company's own forecast in January.

Shares in the firm, also known a Angloplat, rose 1% to an all-time high of 520 rand after the results, but later gave up those gains.

Precious metal boom

The company said it expected profits and sales this year to exceed those of 2001 if the price of platinum and the rand/dollar exchange rate remained at current levels.

Platinum mine
Angloplat miners: Safety reviewed

The average rand/dollar exchange rate for the year was 8.62, 25% weaker than 2000.

"One thing about platinum is that many people still consider it as a precious metal, but it's more of an industrial commodity," Mr Davidson said.

Unlike gold, 85% of which is used in jewellery, 55% of platinum output is used in industrial products.

"Platinum has a much broader industrial demand base than most commodities," Mr Davidson said.

"There's always one sector of demand growing regardless of economic conditions."

Angloplat produces about 40% of the world's platinum supply.

Labour costs

The company's biggest cost was an increase in worker's wages, after a two-year pay deal was reached in 2000, together with higher housing and pension fund contributions.

The Angloplat board also said it regretted the loss of 22 lives at its operations during the year.

The deaths occurred despite a comprehensive review of safety systems at all operations.

Barry Davision, Angloplat chief executive
"There's always one sector of demand growing regardless of economic conditions."
See also:

12 Feb 02 | Business
Anglo commits to Africa
14 Dec 01 | Business
South African stocks soar
07 Sep 01 | Business
Anglo-American's profits fall
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