Anglo American warns on further pain for commodities

Job cuts needed to stay competitive: Anglo American CEO
Job cuts needed to stay competitive: Anglo American CEO

One of the world's largest miners, Anglo American, maintained its interim dividend on Friday despite a deep sell-off in metals hurting its first-half profit, while the group's chief executive warned that there could more pain for the sector to come.

The platinum and iron ore miner, which saw its share price come under major pressure this week as part of a broader sell-off in mining stocks on fears that it may cut its dividend, reported a 36 percent fall in its half-year underlying earnings before taxation (EBIT), in line with analysts' expectations.

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Heavy equipment is used used to mine copper at the Anglo American PLC Los Bronces (Minera Sur Andes) copper mine in central Chile,
Alejandra Parra I Bloomberg via Getty Images

It maintained its interim dividend of $0.32 and said it would take a non-cash impairment charge of $3.5 billion after tax, which includes a hefty $2.9 billion writedown on its Brazilian Minas-Rio iron-ore, facility following a warning earlier this month.

Chief executive Mark Cutifani told CNBC the outlook for metals was set to deteriorate even further in the second half of the year as the group confirmed that it would be culling thousands of jobs in the coming years.

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The group also said it would cut some 6,000 overhead indirect jobs, which comes as platinum producer Lonmin also announced that it was planning to shut down several mining facilities, putting 6,000 jobs at risk.

"It is a very tough environment, we have reduced our numbers by 10,000 in South Africa in platinum already, we still have a long way to go, we try and do it in the most sensitive way we can. In the end we have to make sure we are competitive. We have to take the long-term view, but we have got to do it in the right way," Cutifani told CNBC.

Speaking on the continued decline in the demand for commodities, Cutifani said the data is a concern, and since February the firm has seen a $1.7 billion price impact on its products.

"At the moment I am not sure we are at the bottom, I hope we are but one can never be sure and one has got make sure that your business can handle whatever the market throws at it," he told CNBC.

Shares in the company surged as much as 5 percent higher at market open before paring gains to trade around 1 percent higher, after the firm maintained its dividend, lifting the stocks off 13-year lows seen earlier in the week.

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Metal prices came under further selling pressure on Friday, with copper falling to its lowest level since 2009 after a survey showed a contraction in activity in China's factories fueling demand concerns. Sentiment was also hit after Goldman Sachs slashed its outlook for the price of the metal earlier this week. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange fell to $5,191 a tonne on Friday.

Gold also slumped, falling over 1 percent to its lowest since early 2010 on Friday and on course for its biggest weekly loss in nine months, following strong U.S. jobs data. The yellow metal added to losses seen earlier in the week to trade around $1,084 per ounce.