LONDON (Reuters) - London-listed Kazakh miner ENRC warned its revenue decreased"significantly" in the first quarter compared to a bumper threemonths a year ago, hit by weak volumes and a drop in prices for thecommodities it sells. News it was sticking to its guidance on cost - a big concern for asector battered by the soaring price of materials, energy andlabour - helped push its shares up more than 3 percent and off itslowest levels in more than three years. "There is no new bad news on cost, so there is probably a bit ofrelief (in the market)," said Panmure Gordon analyst Gavin Wood. "Essentially, the revenues are down because of commodity prices,and that is expected by the market. |
To me it looks fairly neutral." Costs, a major concern for miners and investors across the sector,continued to be driven by the rising prices of input materials,energy and labour, but ENRC said inflation was in line withguidance. The miner - one of the world's largest producers of ferroalloys,used in steelmaking - expects unit costs to rise up to 20 percentthis year. At 0800 GMT, the shares were up 2 percent at 534 pence,outperforming a 0.8 percent rise in the broader sector. ENRC said in a trading statement that revenue from its keyferroalloys division, its biggest earner, deteriorated "verysharply" in the quarter against the same period a year ago, withferrochrome volumes hit by the shutdown of its Chinese ferroalloyplant, Tuoli and furnace repairs.
VOLUME DROPS Volumes for ferroalloy products dropped on average 8.4 percentagainst the first quarter of last year, with total production ofsaleable ferroalloys down 4.8 percent, as production of high- andlow-carbon ferrochrome, used to make stainless steel, dropped. Its iron ore division also showed "severe deterioration" in revenuecompared to a year-ago first quarter lifted by record iron oreprices. Iron ore extraction and primary concentrate productiondropped by 4.8 percent and 2.5 percent respectively. Ferroalloys and iron ore together accounted for 72 percent ofrevenue and 78 percent of ENRC's core profit last year. Ferrochromeprices have been hit by weak demand, while benchmark iron oreprices ended the first quarter at $147 a tonne, from highs of over$190 in February last year.
The miner said alumina and aluminium divisions were again hit bylower prices and a drop in alumina sales volumes caused by aprocessing problem. Alumina production dropped over 18 percentafter interruptions of the supply of soda ash. Copper, an area into which ENRC has expanded through acquisitionsand its move into Africa, provided a bright spot for the group,with production up 37 percent. Miners have been under pressure from shareholders to be moredisciplined in their approach to capital expenditure, and ENRC saidit would cut spending on its BMSA project in Brazil due tolicensing delays. It still expects capital expenditure to hit $2.7 billion this year,thanks to spending in the Democratic Republic of Congo after along-awaited settlement with First Quantum over assets there.
Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved SUBSCRIBE to Mineweb.com's free daily newsletter now.
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