Saudi Arabian Mining Co.’s (Maaden) Q4 2020 performance was lifted by the operation of plants at maximum capacity and cost cuts, which helped it achieve the optimum production levels and maximized profit margins, CEO Mosaed Al Ohali told Argaam in a telephone interview.
Production of gold increased to 410,000 ounces. Ammonia and phosphate fertilizers rose to 1.2 million tons and 2.1 million tons, respectively. Aluminium production also rose to 800,000 tons, Al Ohali added.
The aluminium output saw a marginal decline, the CEO said, explaining that the aluminium sheets, which are used in the auto industry, juice cans and other foodstuffs, were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the company faced some technical problems at one of its production units.
Meanwhile, prices were solid, as the export prices of phosphate fertilizers grew by 24 percent from $290 per ton in early 2020 to $360 per ton by year-end, Al Ohali noted, expecting a higher rise in the product prices.
Aluminium prices also jumped 26 percent to $2,000 per ton by the end of 2020, from $1,500 per ton at the beginning of the year. Gold maintained high prices between $1,920-1,930 per ton. Despite marginal declines, aluminium peaked to $2,076 per ton in Q3 2020, ahead of falling below $2,000 per ton. Gold prices are still strong, Al Ohali said.
“The annual growth witnessed by Maaden embodies strong economy, along with the government support for the mining sector and its competitive ability,” the top official affirmed, adding that Maaden will pursue growth plans.
The company has several ambitious expansion projects for gold and phosphate, which are under construction. These projects include a gold mine, which Maaden expects to begin its construction in early 2022. The new mine will add 250,000 gold ounces.
Maaden’s portfolio also includes the ammonia – 3 plant in Ras Al-Khair. The facility is likely to start production at the beginning of next year and will add 1.1 million tons to total sales.
Maaden targets raising its gold production to nearly 1 million ounces within the next five to seven years, and boost phosphate capacity to 9 million tons from 6 million tons.
Moreover, the gold and phosphate price movements enhance the company’s cash flows and competitive advantage, Al Ohali noted.
“Maaden is optimistic for 2021 after electing US President Joe Biden, who seems more keen on commercial and political harmony across the world, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and growing demand in Asia and other regions, which in turn could push demand and prices higher,” Al Ohali added.
Elsewhere, Al Ohali expressed his concerns about the spread of new COVID-19 strains, as this will lead to travel and movement restrictions; thus, weighing on trade. Al Ohali added that he expects countries to control the second wave of the pandemic more efficiently. Accordingly, it will have a limited impact on global economy.
The Saudi mining firm narrowed net loss after Zakat and tax to SR 209 million in fiscal year 2020, compared to a loss of SR 739.5 million in 2019, Argaam reported.