Top 40 miners returned to profit in 2016: PwC – by Andrew Topf (Mining.com – June 9, 2017)

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Is the bad and the ugly over and the good returning to the mining industry? PwC seems to think so, according to a new report from the consulting firm.

“The world’s Top 40 miners recovered from a race to the bottom, with bolstered balance sheets and a return to profitability in 2016, giving them much-needed space to pause and draw breath,” reads a press release on PwC’s annual review of global mining trends, this year titled “Mine 2017. Stop. Think. Act.”

The report was released on Wednesday by PwC Africa at the Junior Indaba conference in Johannesburg. It analyzed 40 of the largest listed mining companies by market capitalization, covering the financials between April 1 2015 and December 31 2016.

The most dramatic statistic to emerge is the return to profitability in 2016, with the Top 40 raking in aggregate profits of $20 billion in 2016 compared to a total loss of $28 billion in 2015. Rising commodity prices lifted all boats, resulting in a 45% total rise in market capitalization to $714 billion – a number approaching the 2014 level.

Yet the world’s top miners only saw a marginal increase in revenues – 1% – despite a rebound in commodity prices in the second half, namely coal and iron ore. Any new revenues appear to be going towards debt repayment rather than capital expenditures, which are down 41% to a record low of just $50 billion.

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