Saudi Arabia's Ma'aden reports profit slide on lower sales prices

Mining company says average selling prices of all products except gold fell during the second quarter of this year

Saudi employees observe an aluminium production line at the Maaden Aluminium Factory in Ras Al-Khair Industrial area near Jubail City, 570 kms east of the Saudi capital Riyadh, on November 23, 2016.
Maaden Aluminium is a joint venture between the Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) and Alcoa, the third largest producer of aluminium in the world. / AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE
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Saudi Arabian Mining Company, one of the Gulf's biggest miners, reported an annual 91 per cent drop in second-quarter net profit due to lower average sales prices of its products, higher expenses and increased finance costs.

Net profit after zakat and tax for the three months to the end of June fell to 351 million Saudi riyals ($93.6 million), amid higher personnel and exploration costs, the company said in a filing on Sunday to the Tadawul stock exchange, where its shares are traded.

Revenue in the April-June period declined 41 per cent year-on-year to 6.9 billion riyals, reflecting lower prices of commodities except for gold, Ma’aden, as the Riyadh-listed company is known, said.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) decreased 69 per cent year-on-year to 2.1 billion riyals, it said.

However, the decrease in net profit was partially offset by the higher sales volumes of all products except ammonia, primary aluminium and flat rolled products, Ma'aden said.

“Across the business, we reported further increases in production and sales volumes despite lower commodity prices from peak levels last year,” Robert Wilt, chief executive of Ma'aden, said.

“We are beginning to see an improvement in raw material pricing and, despite the challenging market environment, remain well placed to meet the growing long-term demand for our products.”

Ma’aden, which is majority-owned by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, is central to Riyadh’s economic diversification strategy. The expansion of the industrial and mining sectors is one of the main objectives of the kingdom's Vision 2030 agenda, which positions mining as a third pillar of the economy.

The kingdom aims to more than triple the mining sector’s contribution to the nation’s economic output by 2030. Ma’aden operates several extraction sites and mines in Saudi Arabia to produce gold, copper, iron ore and strategic minerals.

Under its new corporate strategy, Ma'aden aims to grow tenfold by 2040 and to move into strategic minerals to fuel the growth of downstream industries in Saudi Arabia.

Factors that contributed to a decline in Ma'aden's second-quarter profit included a 40 per cent increase in general and administrative expenses, an 86 per cent rise in finance cost due to higher interest rates, a 116 per cent increase in exploration and technical services expenses and a 59 per cent drop in net profit of joint ventures attributable to Ma’aden.

Looking ahead, the company said on Sunday it is making “good progress” in implementing a new operating model, which is expected to have a “material impact” in the medium-to-long term in improving productivity and optimising costs.

“Raw material prices are expected to continue to ease from their elevated levels, supporting profitability,” it said.

Ma'aden expects ammonia prices to remain stable in the third quarter as tight supply continues to provide a “marginal upside”.

The world's biggest exporter of blue ammonia, Ma'aden exported its first shipment of low-carbon blue ammonia to China in May under an agreement to supply 25,000 tonnes to Shenghong Petrochemicals.

Also in May, it signed an agreement with Vancouver's Ivanhoe Electric to purchase a 9.9 per cent stake in the company for $126.5 million.

Under that JV, “preparatory work” is under way for geophysical surveying systems that are expected to arrive in the field by September and surveying programmes are expected to start in the second half of the year, Ma'aden said on Sunday.

Manara Minerals Investment, Ma'aden's joint venture with the Public Investment Fund, last month signed a binding agreement to acquire a 10 per cent stake in Brazil's base metals company Vale. The deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024.

Updated: August 13, 2023, 11:38 AM