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Kumba Iron Ore’s interim earnings fall on lower sales and lockdown

South Africa’s Kumba Iron Ore Ltd. on Tuesday reported a 17% drop in interim earnings due to the impact of the new coronavirus on output and sales but remained upbeat about its ability to withstand the turmoil.

The company, a unit of Anglo American, on Tuesday reported headline earnings per share, the main profit measure used in South Africa, down 17% to 26.19 rand for the six months ended on June 30, compared with 31.51 rand a year earlier.

“We are a resilient and capital efficient business with a robust balance sheet, well positioned to navigate the current environment and the longer term,” said Kumba chief executive Themba Mkhwanazi.

The company, which declared an interim cash dividend of 19.60 rand, also approved a 7 billion rand ($426 million) project to develop the new Kapstevel South pit at its Kolomela operations in the Northern Cape province.

The project, which is expected to deliver its first ore in 2024, will contribute to sustaining production of 13 million tonnes for the remaining life of the Kolomela mine.

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During the period production dropped by 11% to 17.9 million tonnes compared with the same period a year ago due to the lockdown and reduced output levels during the pandemic.

Kumba said sales volumes had also declined by 13% to 18.6 million tonnes due to weaker exports and lower domestic sales.

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