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MMC Norilsk Nickel (MNOD)

11-Aug-2020 / 14:00 MSK
Dissemination of a Regulatory Announcement that contains inside information
according to REGULATION (EU) No 596/2014 (MAR), transmitted by EQS Group.
The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.


Public Joint Stock Company «Mining and Metallurgical Company «NORILSK
NICKEL» (PJSC «MMC «NORILSK NICKEL», «Nornickel», the «Company», the


Moscow, August 11, 2020 - PJSC MMC Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest
producer of palladium and high-grade nickel and a major producer of platinum
and copper, reports interim consolidated IFRS financial results for six
months ended June 30, 2020.


· Consolidated revenue increased 7% y-o-y to USD 6.7 billion owing to
higher prices of palladium, rhodium and gold as well as the ramp-up of
Bystrinsky project;

· EBITDA decreased 51% y-o-y to USD 1.8 billion due to the USD 2.1 billion
environmental provision related to the reimbursement of environmental
damages caused by the fuel spill at the industrial site of the Heat and
Power Plant ? 3 in the Kayerkan neighborhood of Norilsk;

· CAPEX increased 10% y-o-y to USD 0.6 billion owing to the launch of
construction of strategic projects such as the expansion of the Talnakh
concentrator (TOF-3 project), the development of South Cluster mining
project and complex environmental programme aiming at radical reduction of
sulfur dioxide emissions at the Polar Division;

· Net working capital increased to USD 1.0 billion in line with the
medium-term target level;

· Free cash flow increased 21% y-o-y to USD 2.7 billion;

· Net debt/EBITDA ratio increased to 1.2x as of June 30, 2020;

· In 1H2020, Nornickel paid interim dividend for 9 months of 2019 in the
amount of USD 1,567 million and final dividend for 2019 in total amount of
USD 1,264 million;

· Building up liquidity cushion with USD 1,565 million from a syndicated
USD 4,150 million borrowing drawn down in March and April, after the loan
limit was increased from USD 2,500 million in February, and additional RUB
60 billion drawn from a revolving credit line;

· On May 29, 2020, diesel fuel leaked from the emergency fuel tank at the
heat and power plant ?3 (HPP-3) due to sudden sinking of support posts
based in permafrost. Clean-up of the incident was launched immediately,
when by the end of the reporting period most of the fuel leaked into soil
and water was collected, with most of the contaminated being removed;

· Throughout 1H2020, a comprehensive set of initiatives was developed and
rolled to ensure operations sustainability and social security in the
regions of operations amidst the spread of coronavirus. Safeguarding the
health and safety of employees and providing full support to the regional
communities and authorities was the top priority, with USD 95 million (net
of VAT) spent into preventive initiatives and charity.


· On July 6, 2020, Federal Environment Supervision Agency
(Rosprirodnadzor) published its assessment of environmental damages from
the fuel spill incident as RUB 147.78 billion (approximately USD 2.1
billion) and sent the Company request for the voluntary compensation of
this damage. On August 4, 2020, the Company sent a letter to
Rosprirodnadzor expressing its readiness to have a dialogue over the
reimbursement of the environmental damages, noting that the assessment of
damages required should be adjusted based on the actual data once the
consequences of the incident are completely remediated and all due expert
assessments are complete. The Company sees the possibility for an
out-of-the court settlement of all issues related to the assessment of
environmental damages, terms and timing of the compensation terms within
the established working group;

· In July 2020, the Company entered into a RUB 10 billion committed
revolving credit facility, with no funds were drawn as of the publication
date of this release.


USD million (unless stated otherwise) 1H2020 1H2019 Change,%
Revenue 6,711 6,292 7%
EBITDA¹ 1,838 3,719 (51%)
EBITDA margin 27% 59% (32 p.p.)
Net profit 45 2,997 (98%)
Capital expenditures 551 500 10%
Free cash flow² 2,679 2,206 21%
Net working capital² 1,038 9854 5%
Net debt² 7,287 7,0604 3%
Net debt/12M EBITDA 1.2x 0.9x4 0.3x
Dividends paid per share (USD)³ 17.9 - 100%

1) A non-IFRS measure, for the calculation see the notes below.

2) A non-IFRS measure, for the calculation see an analytical review document
("Data book") available in conjunction with Consolidated IFRS Financial
Results on the Company's web site.

3) Paid during the current period

4) Reported as of December 31, 2019


The President of Nornickel, Vladimir Potanin, commented on the results,

"First half of 2020 turned out to be very challenging for our Company. The
coronavirus pandemic had a significant ripple effect on the global economy
as all major consumers of our products experienced an unprecedented downturn
of business activity. Even though most analysts are currently forecasting a
quick economic recovery, we remain cautious regarding the recovery prospects
for our metals' demand at least until the end of this year.

COVID-19 challenged not only our operating model, health and well-being of
our employees and their families, but literally all the Company's
stakeholders in the regions of our operations. Owing to the timely support
that we have provided to local authorities and regional healthcare, socially
vulnerable communities, small and medium enterprises, as well as
safeguarding measures for our employees, the Company managed to pass the
peak of the pandemic without any material impact on operations. We remain
committed to continue our support to the regions of our operations to combat
the spread of coronavirus.

The end of the first half was also marked by an unprecedented in our own
history environmental incident, when the leak of diesel fuel at the
industrial site of the Heat and Power Plant ? 3 in the Kayerkan neighborhood
of Norilsk resulted in an adverse environmental impact. We immediately
started a comprehensive clean-up operation to collect the leaked fuel and
remove contaminated soil, actively engaging third parties, including
government and private partners, as well as launched a number of initiatives
to prevent such incidents in the future. We have also engaged into an active
cooperation with the various government bodies regarding the rehabilitation
of the incident.

Overall, we would like to reiterate reduction of the environmental impact
and improving ecological performance as strategic priorities of the Company.
In spite certain issues with the mobilization of a third party contractor
workforce in Norilsk as well as new risks for the shipment of imported
equipment due to coronavirus pandemic, we have launched the active
construction phase of our flagship desulfurization project in Norilsk and
the expansion of Talnakh concentrator. We reiterate our strategic target to
decrease sulfur dioxide emissions in Norilsk by 90% in 2025.

Our revenue in the first half of 2020 increased 7% to USD 6.7 billion owing
to higher palladium and rhodium prices. Our EBITDA, however, decreased 51%
to USD 1.8 billon due to a USD 2.1 environmental provision, with EBITDA
margin falling to 27% and net income reducing to USD 45 million. At the same
time, free cash flow increased 21% to USD 2.7 billion as the environmental
provision was not a cash item.

The leverage remained at a low level with net debt to EBITDA ratio
increasing to 1.2x. Amidst the high level of uncertainty on global markets,
the Company increased its liquidity cushion by drawing down some of the
available credit lines. We continued our long run campaign to refinance debt
portfolio, having managed to further decrease the average cost of debt
despite an increase of gross debt. Financial stability is among strategic
our priorities. The world's leading credit rating agencies appreciate strong
financial standing of the Company, having confirmed our credit ratings at
investment grade level".


The lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) decreased 29% y-o-y from 0.28 to
0.20 in 1H2020, remaining well below the global mining industry average.
Furthermore, the number of lost time injuries decreased 27% y-o-y (from 15
to 11) following the roll-out of base corporate industrial safety standards
of, launch of a risk control project aiming at the reduction of safety
related risks and improvement of labour safety management system

Regretfully, in 1H2020 Company suffered five fatal injuries. The management
considers the health and safety of its employees as the key strategic
priority, targeting zero fatality rate, and continues to implement a wide

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

August 11, 2020 07:00 ET ( 11:00 GMT)


range of initiatives targeting further improvement of the health and safety
records. In 1H 2020, selected initiatives included the following:

· 11 internal audits of Occupational safety and Health management systems;

· 70 cases of the violations of cardinal safety rules revealed, leading to
56 employees getting fired for the violation of safety rules.

In May 2020, Bain & Company Russia Consulting conducted an annual
independent audit of the current level of the occupational safety culture of
the Company as well as changes in its HSE systems over the past year.
According to this audit, the Company's integral score was raised to 3.0
points from 2.8 as of May 2019 (1.4 points in 2014).


Nickel in 1H2020 - nickel price showed a surprising resilience averaging USD
12,475 per tonne despite a rising surplus owing to the spread of COVID-19;
global demand suffered from the coronavirus-related lockdowns, while the
ramp-up of Indonesian NPI was a major positive offset of the supply
disruption in other regions and lower Chinese NPI; exchange stocks increased
to 263 kt by the end of June reflecting the market running a surplus.

Nickel price started this year with a nosedive falling below USD 11,000 per
tonne in the end of March as the outbreak of COVID-19 that initially
affected China spread into Europe and North America forcing the governments
across the globe to impose social lockdowns in attempts to contain the
pandemic. In April, however, the price trend reversed as all major central
banks boosted the capital markets with unprecedented liquidity injections.
In May-June, the price recovery accelerated driven by markets' increasing
optimism as the lockdowns were gradually removed in Europe and the economic
activity in China was rebouncing strongly. As a result, by the end of 1H2020
nickel price returned to its pre-pandemic level of USD 12,850 per tonne,
with US Dollar weakening additionally contributing to an increase of the
price to above USD 14,500 per tonne by the first week of August.

In 1H2020, average LME nickel price was practically unchanged (up 1% y-o-y)
at USD 12,475 per tonne.

In our view, the quick nickel price rebound in 2Q2020 was somewhat out of
touch from market fundamentals as demand disruptions owing to the COVID-19
affected materially all nickel-consuming sectors. Apart from the stainless
steel nickel consumption in China, which was down 2% y-o-y in 1H2020 (with
even larger end-use demand contraction as smelters preferred to increase
their inventories of finished goods rather than idle capacities), pretty
much all other major stainless-producing countries, recorded a far greater
decline, ranging from EMEA - down 19%, India - 21%, Taiwan - 11%, Japan - 5%
and South Korea - 4%.

Non-stainless industries consumption (including specialty steels, alloys and
plating) reduced over 10% y-o-y owing to the contraction of end-use demand
in aerospace and oil and gas industries. Even the battery industry that used
to be the fastest growing nickel consumer in the past couple of years,
decreased nickel consumption over 15% y-o-y. Dismal NEV sales in China (down
40% y-o-y) were partly offset positively by strong NEV sales in Europe (up
68% y-o-y) owing to stellar performance in January-February (+148% y-o-y)
and recovery in May-June.

Global nickel production was also affected by the coronavirus. Over 75 kt of
high-grade nickel and ferronickel supply was wiped out by COVID-related
temporary shutdowns in Canada, Madagascar and South Africa, which was
amplified by 35 kt of price-driven production cuts by small independent
producers. In China, NPI production was down 7% (or 20 kt) y-o-y exacerbated
by ceased availability of rich Indonesian ore following the export ban. On
the other hand, all these production losses have been offset positively by
the rapid ramp-up of NPI capacities in Indonesia that added over 80 kt of
new supply (+50% y-o-y).

We estimate that nickel market surplus expanded to 80 k in 1H2020 as
COVID-related demand disruptions substantially exceeded the supply losses.
As a result, combined nickel inventories at LME and SHFE increased by almost
40% during 1H2020 from 188 kt to 263 kt reflecting the apparent market

Nickel outlook - negative in the short-term, but more constructive
longer-term; we expect market surplus to expand to approximately 150 kt in
2020; demand to suffer a 7% pandemic-related decline; supply is expected to
be flat as the disruptions caused by COVID-19 are compensated by the rapid
expansion of NPI in Indonesia; despite the recent weakness, the battery
demand will remain the major consumption driver in the next 5-10 years as
the world is steadily moving towards carbon neutral economy.

Spread of COVID-19 has had a material damaging impact on the global nickel
demand, which, in our opinion, has not been yet fully realized by the market
as the first-use demand usually lags the end-use demand due to extended
supply lead time in major manufacturing sectors. As was highlighted in our
Quintessentially Nickel report in May, in order to estimate accurately the
real pandemic's impact on the nickel demand, one needs to study all major
end-use sectors and evaluate the impact on each and single of them. We
expect the main end-use sectors (food & beverage contact materials,
construction, process engineering, transport, electronics etc.) to contract
by approximately 20% in 2020, that is considerably more than the expected
decline in the first-use demand (-7% y-o-y). Taking into account a potential
forced restocking due to coronavirus, the lag in metal consumption by the
end-use industries will amount to 4-7 months, in our view, thus pushing the
negative impact on the first-use demand to 2H2020 and further into 1Q2021.

Indonesia continues commissioning new NPI projects and is to increase its
annual output by over 200 kt this year. We expect that the NPI production in
China will shrink by approximately 160 kt owing to the lack of ore feed,
while production of other nickel forms will contract by approximately 40 kt
following temporary quarantine-related shutdowns. Therefore, assuming a 7%
reduction in demand and relatively flat supply, nickel market, on our
estimates, should develop a substantial surplus of approximately 150 kt in

xEV auto market is showing promising signs of recovery mainly driven by the
roll-out of European subsidies. Currently, the total announced capacities of
all gigafactories to be opened in Europe by 2025, funded by both European
and Asian investors, amount to over 400 GWh, which is equivalent to
approximately 300 kt of nickel consumption. We remain bullish on the growth
prospects of the xEV industry in the long run on the back of multibillion
investments in the infrastructure and the average price of battery pack
steadily falling towards USD 100/kWh.

We anticipate that public transportation and car sharing will be heavily
impacted by the COVID pandemic and, therefore, we expect an increase in
private vehicles' use. This creates a positive momentum for the auto sales
and, consequently, NEVs. NEVs are better suited for everyday commuting
within city environment.

Overall, we reiterate our view that the long-term growth in nickel demand
will primarily come from the NEV industry, although at a slower pace than
previously forecasted.

Copper in 1H2020 - coronavirus-related drop in demand shifted the market
into a moderate surplus; acceleration of supply disruptions in 2Q2020 and
optimism related to Chinese economy reopening boosted the price back to
pre-Covid levels in June.

Having started the year at USD 6,200 per tonne, copper price was hammered by
coronavirus crisis in 1Q2020. By the end of January the infection outbreak
in China pushed the metal price down to USD 5,500 per tonne, with the price
taking the second hit in March declining below USD 4,600 per tonne as the
virus spread from China into the rest of the world. In April, however,
copper market started to recover as China emerged from lockdown and
restarted its economy. In May-June, the rally accelerated as more stimuli
have been unleashed by global central banks supporting the price of risky
assets, while manufacturing data from China showed promising signs of
broader economic recovery. In July, copper price increased to USD 6,500 per
tonne, levels not seen since April 2019.

The average LME copper price in 1H2020 decreased 11% y-o-y to USD 5,500 per

In 1H2020, the underlying market fundamentals were severely impacted by the
coronavirus pandemic as the copper market shifted to a moderate surplus. As
manufacturing activities across major economies tumbled to their lowest
levels in decades, global copper demand was down 4% y-o-y. China reopened
its economy after a 2 months-long strict lockdown, getting its GDP back to a
growth trajectory in Q2 (+3.2% y-o-y). The GDP recovery in China was
primarily driven by industrial production and fixed assets investment, all
of which were supporting a rebound of copper consumption. June trade
statistics provided additional evidence that the Chinese copper demand was
recovering, as import of unwrought copper increased 50%, albeit also
benefiting from an arbitrage opened between Shanghai and London copper
prices, which made it cheaper to import the metal rather than to buy it

Global copper production was equally impacted by the pandemics. February

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

August 11, 2020 07:00 ET ( 11:00 GMT)

started with Chinese smelters cutting production on the back of COVID-19
containment measures and scarcity of both scrap and concentrate supply. As
the coronavirus hot spot migrated to the Western hemisphere a flurry of mine
disruption news from Chile and Peru provided additional tightness to the
concentrate market and therefore support to the copper price. Overall, we
estimate that global copper supply was down 3% y-o-y in 1H2020.

Exchange stocks in January-June increased by 85 kt reflecting a moderate

Copper outlook - neutral; the market to develop a moderate surplus of 210
kt; global consumption to decrease 3% y-o-y in line with deterioration of
broader economic conditions; China's recovery is on track supported by a new
government stimulus package, but PMIs in other geographies are still weak
assuming soft end-use demand in the second half of the year; global
production to contract 2% following COVID-19 containment measures in

We anticipate that copper market will remain largely balanced in the
near-term running a marginal surplus of less than 1% (or 210 kt) of the
global consumption as coronavirus outbreak will continue to have an equal
impact both demand and supply sides.

In spite of an overall positive market sentiment stemming from the gradual
recovery of the global economic activity, the outlook for copper end-use
demand does not look very promising, on our estimates. Positive data coming
out from China on increasing grid investments, 5G development and durable
goods sales are in sharp contrast with a major deterioration in economic
conditions in the rest of the world (ex-China demand is estimated below
levels seen 15 years ago). Moreover, the weakness of economic recovery
outside China may negatively affect the Chinese demand itself as
approximately 20% of its copper consumption is dependent on export markets.
In our view, global copper demand will reduce 3% y-o-y to 22.8 mt in 2020
driven mainly by weak industrial machinery (-7% y-o-y), consumer goods (-5%
y-o-y) and construction (-3% y-o-y) industries.

At the same time, according to our estimates, the COVID-19 related
production disruptions in Latin America and uncertainty around scrap
availability in China should reduce global copper output 2% to 23.0mt in
2020 (from 23.5mt in 2019).

We expect broadly balanced copper market in 2020, with a moderate surplus of
210 kt (representing less than 1% of global demand).

Palladium in 1H2020 - price managed to hold its ground above USD 2,000 per
ounce despite plunge in global car sales and substantially deteriorated
outlook for the global automotive market; global supply reduced owing to
coronavirus-related stoppages in South Africa and lower output in Russia.

Palladium started the year very strongly, reaching its all-time high of USD
2,795 per ounce on February 28, 2020. The price rally was driven by the lack
of ingots in the spot market and high physical demand in China driven by the
roll-out of China-6 emission standards. Additional boost for palladium came
from rhodium (which is often a good lead indicator for palladium price),
that sky-rocketed from USD 6,000 per ounce in December 2019 to USD 14,000
per ounce in early March. Whenever rhodium is in physical shortage,
car-makers are forced to increase their palladium loadings substantially.
The outbreak of COVID-19 derailed the palladium price rally, with shutdowns
both in automotive industry and catalyst fabrication leading to demand
contraction, resulting in a sharp price decrease to less than USD 1,600 per
ounce on March 18, 2020. However, as the South Africa started to halt its
mines for sanitation and global central banks further loosened their
monetary policies, the palladium price recovered to USD 1,800-2,000 per
ounce range in 2Q2020.

The average palladium price in 1H2020 increased 51% y-o-y to USD 2,136 per

In 1H2020, government-imposed lockdowns across the globe caused massive
losses in both auto production and auto sales. According to LMC Automotive
global car sales were down 28% in 1H2020, with largest declines recorded in
Europe (-37%), North America (-25%) and China (-20%).

The global palladium supply was not immune to coronavirus either. Even
before the infection outbreak Anglo Platinum put one of its smelters on care
and maintenance for two and a half months, resulting in the reduction of
refined PGM production by approximately 0.5 moz. National lockdowns
introduced in South Africa hit severely palladium mined output, with exports
from South Africa decreasing 29% or 240koz y-o-y in 1H2020. Even though
Norilsk Nickel managed to avoid any coronavirus-related operational
disruptions, its palladium production was down 17% y-o-y owing to a very
high base of 2019, when previously accumulated work-in-progress inventory
was released.

Palladium outlook - neutral; the market is expected to be balanced this
year; auto industry is likely to suffer its worst crisis in decades driving
the palladium demand down 16% y-o-y; supply to decrease 14% y-o-y due to
supply losses in South Africa and lower recycling.

We expect industrial palladium consumption to decrease 16% y-o-y to 9.1 moz
following an unprecedented contraction of end-use demand. On our estimates,
car sales are expected to plunge 22% y-o-y to 70 million units in 2020,
while other palladium-consumers such as dental, chemical, electronics and
jewelry industries also expected to remain depressed. Given a substantial
reduction in demand, consumers' stockpiles throughout the entire value chain
should contribute additionally to supply, thus further reducing metal
purchasing. The only visibly strong market so far is China, where after
coronavirus-related restrictions in 1Q2020 retail car sales recovered
strongly in April-June. However, according to analysts consensus view, there
is a concern that other countries will be unable to follow Chinese recovery
pace, and there is a risk that although automakers have just relaunched
their factories, production could subside again if deliveries to dealerships
do not pick up accordingly.

Palladium supply is normalizing as South African companies re-opened their
mines though at reduced capacities. However, even assuming that some of the
accumulated work-in-progress material will be released during the rest of
the year, the output losses incurred in 1H2020 will not be fully recouped,
in our view, and we expect the global primary supply to decrease by more
than 1.0 moz this year. Recycling volumes are also expected, on our
estimates, to decrease by 0.4 moz. In total, in our view, the global supply
will reduce 14% to 9.1 moz in 2020.

In 2021, we expect the global light vehicle sales to recover to over 82
million units (up 16% y-o-y) from 70 million units in 2020. Full recovery in
recycling and primary South African supply should balance the market in
2021, with the market remaining in a balance, in our opinion. In an
aftermath of the COVID pandemic, we see a clear trend towards increasing
popularity of individual mobility, since people would likely to avoid less
safe public transport, taxis and car sharing. Restrictions on the mass
transit transportation systems as well as concerns over not meeting the
minimum social distancing in a public transport should encourage personal
car ownership and usage.

Platinum in 1H2020 - market remained oversupplied amidst falling auto and
jewelry demand; price quickly recovered to pre-coronavirus levels helped by
the gold rally and mine disruptions in South Africa.

Platinum price was relatively stable in January-February trading in the
tight range of USD 900-1,000 per ounce before crashing to USD 600 per ounce
in March. However, it recovered quickly to pre-coronavirus levels of USD
800-850 per ounce on the back of lockdown introduced in South African mining
industry and the gold price rally. The ETF demand did not record any inflows
in 1H2020 unlike 2019, and we therefore believe that the apparent surplus
was accumulated in other non-transparent stocks.

Market fundamental factors continued to deteriorate as diesel car sales
underperformed both gasoline and NEV sales across all markets. Closed luxury
goods stores and weak consumer confidence also severely affected jewellery

In 1H2020, global primary refined platinum production was also hit severely
as South African mines were put on care and maintenance on March 26 for 21
days due to COVID-19. In April, the operations were re-started, but
continued to operate at lower capacity utilization rates, ranging from 50%
to 80%.

The average LBMA platinum price increased 2% y-o-y to USD 848 per ounce.

Platinum outlook - neutral; both automotive and jewelry demand are expected
to decrease 20% y-o-y, in our view; substitution of palladium in
autocatalysts is not happening; rationalization of supply in South Africa is
expected to be put on the back burner due to strong PGM basket price
performance owing to rhodium and palladium; ETFs inflows in June and July
indicate some revival of investors' interest as other precious metals
continue to rally.

We expect platinum market (excl. investments) to remain in surplus of
approximately 0.7 moz (almost 10% of the global demand) in 2020.

In 2020, we forecast that global industrial demand will decrease 17% y-o-y
to 6.3 moz. The automotive demand will fall by 15%, with lower diesel car

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August 11, 2020 07:00 ET ( 11:00 GMT)

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