Global Wrap: Anglo, Glencore and more

IN Global Wrap: Anglo and Vale adjust guidance; Glencore in takeover; Newmont lifts dividend; and leadership changes for Albemarle and Trilogy.
Global Wrap: Anglo, Glencore and more Global Wrap: Anglo, Glencore and more Global Wrap: Anglo, Glencore and more Global Wrap: Anglo, Glencore and more Global Wrap: Anglo, Glencore and more

Staff reporter

Anglo American is looking to reduce costs and shave US$1 billion off its 2020 capex figure after COVID-19 forced the mining major to delay work on Quellaveco and lower guidance across several of its key divisions.

Lockdown measures in South Africa and resulting operational disruption saw Anglo reduce guidance for diamonds from 32-34 million carats to 25-27Mct, platinum from 2-2.2Moz to 1.5-1.7Moz, palladium from around 1.4Moz to 1-1.2Moz, iron ore from 41.5-42.5Mt and thermal coal exports from 26Mt to 22Mt.

Similar government action in Peru force Anglo to withdraw most of its 15,000 strong workforce from its Quellaveco copper project mid-March, and the company said Thursday it had decided to suspend non-critical works for "up to three months", although first production in 2022 is still achievable, it said.

Pushing back work at Quellaveco will bring down 2020 capex on the project to $1.2-1.5 billion from the company's previously guided figure of $1.5-1.7 billion.

Anglo's total capex figure for 2020 will be between $4-4.5 billion, down from the previously guided figure of $5-5.5 billion.

Group cost savings of US$500 million will come via a mix of lower discretionary spend and reductions to overheads, R&D and exploration spend.

Glencore will take full ownership of the 99.5%-owned Katanga Mining, a Democratic Republic of Congo copper and cobalt producer.

The major offered C16c per share, double Katanga's April 21 Toronto closing price and a 139% premium over the 20-day volume weighted average price.

Katanga has recommended shareholders vote in favour of the amalgamation on June 2, citing reasons including limited trading liquidity, the relative costs of a stock exchange listing, current commodity price risks, ongoing operational risks and lack of financing sources without support from Glencore.

Katanga this week reduced its cobalt guidance for FY20, from 29,000 tonnes to 26,000t, but maintained its copper outlook of 270,000t.

Brazil's Vale has cut its full-year iron ore production guidance after a miss in the first quarter, delays in restarting some operations and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also lowered its nickel and copper guidance and said due to uncertainties arising from the pandemic, "Vale is withdrawing and cannot, at this moment, provide a new coal production guidance for 2020".

The company said March quarter iron ore fines production was 59.6 million tonnes, below the already revised forecast 63-68Mt, due to unscheduled maintenance on the long-distance conveyor belt at S11D, poor weather and operational issues.

Vale reduced 2020 fines production guidance from 340-355Mt to 310-330Mt, and pellet production from 44Mt to 35-40Mt.

The company said its plan to close its Vale New Caledonia (VNC) refinery was advancing and, along with the extended idling of Voisey's Bay in Canada, was among the reasons for the base metals production downgrade. 

It cut its nickel guidance, ex-VNC, from 200,000-210,000t to 180,000-195,000t.

Copper was reduced from 400,000t to 360,000-380,000t.

"The company is continuously evaluating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its business and will disclose promptly any further material impact on its operations, supply chain or customer demand," it said.

Newmont has kept good on its promise to boost shareholder returns with a 79% increase in its first quarter dividend to US25c per share.

The company said future quarterly dividends remained would depend on factors including financial results, cashflow and cash requirements, and the duration and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lithium major Albemarle has elected director J Kent Masters as chairman, president and CEO, effective immediately, to replace Luke Kissam who is retiring for health reasons.

The company said Kissam would stay on through June in an advisory capacity to ensure an orderly transition, and would remain on the board.

Masters joined Albemarle's board in 2015, having been a non-employee director of Rockwood Holdings from 2007-2015, when it was acquired by Albemarle.

The company also said board member James O'Brien had been appointed lead independent director as part of the transition.

Finally, South32-backed Trilogy Metals has appointed former Ivanhoe Mines president and current executive director Tony Giardini as president and CEO.

Interim CEO Jim Gowans will remain on the board.