Assets and investments Perfomance Review
In 2021, strategic investments and alliances with carefully selected counterparties continued to further extend the scope of our activities and service offer.
The Group’s industrial assets comprise majority-owned and operated mining operations and independently managed joint venture mines; the majority-owned but independently managed businesses Nyrstar and Puma Energy; Impala Terminals (which comprises a joint venture with IFM Investors and a number of other operations majority-owned by Trafigura); and the majority-owned bunkering provider joint venture TFG Marine. The Group also has an investment in H2 Energy, a leader in green hydrogen mobility solutions, and a 50 percent share of joint venture H2 Energy Europe. Galena Asset Management is Trafigura’s wholly owned and regulated investment subsidiary. In addition, Trafigura holds a number of minority investments in industrial assets where it does not have operational control, including Vostok Oil, Terrafame and Prony Resources’ Goro operation.
Trafigura Group’s portfolio of mining assets span Africa, Latin America, North America and Europe. Equity value is generated for the Trafigura Group and commodities are procured for our metals and minerals trading books. The mining team also provides advisory and support services to the rest of the Group.
This was another challenging year for many of our mines – at least as challenging as 2020, and for the same reasons: labour shortages in North America and production shortfalls and supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19. Fortunately, the increase in metals prices during the year compensated for the production losses, meaning that the mining assets reported a very solid financial result. However, the Group’s safety record in mining remained unsatisfactory. Regrettably, four fatalities were recorded at mining operations during the financial year: one in Spain and three at Nyrstar’s mine in Tennessee, US. Safety improvement plans are in place at each of these operations.
A key highlight of the year was the sale of Minas de Aguas Teñidas (MATSA), our Spanish polymetallic mining joint venture, to Australia’s Sandfire Resources for USD1,865 million. The transaction was announced in September 2021 and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2022, with key conditions including Spanish foreign direct investment and anti-trust merger approval. The sale was the culmination of significant investment in the MATSA mining complex by both Trafigura and Mubadala Investment Company to develop a worldclass mining asset with a highly experienced workforce. As part of the sale agreement, Trafigura Group will retain a life of mine concentrate agreement for 100 percent of offtake from MATSA.
Other bright spots in 2021 included strong performance by the Catalina Huanca mine in Peru, where production, costs and organisation all significantly improved. Despite a very strong safety performance for the year under review, tragically a fatal incident occurred in November 2021 and a full investigation is currently underway.
The Mineração Morro do Ipê iron ore operation in Minas Gerais, Brazil, a joint venture between Mubadala and Trafigura, recorded very strong operational, safety and financial progress. The mining team provided support to the independently-managed Terrafame nickel operation, a joint venture between the Finnish State and Galena Asset Management, on the successful completion of a nickel sulphate plant at the site.
However, at the same time, at many of our sites, the disruptions caused by COVID-19 were a daunting challenge. At several locations, up to 20 percent of the labour force was absent as a result of sickness or quarantine measures. Government measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 also disrupted supply chains, significantly delayed delivery of equipment, consumables and spare parts, and prevented staff from travelling to sites to help fix problems. Accelerated post-COVID-19 recovery in the wider economy also led to increased personnel turnover, in particular in North America.
The Castellanos zinc and lead mine, a joint venture between Cuban parastatal Geominera, who manages the mine and Trafigura, had a particularly difficult year, suffering a severe, COVID-19-related production shortfall. The Myra Falls mine, previously owned by Nyrstar, is still in ramp-up phase. Elsewhere, production at the Kapulo mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was disrupted by local political developments.
Therefore, the focus for the current year is firmly on improving safety performance and resuming stable operations as COVID-19-related measures are relaxed, operational stability should be restored. The mines should also benefit further from rising prices and demand for metals, although operating and capital costs are rising sharply, not least the price of energy. We continue recruiting additional suitably qualified personnel across the mining asset companies.
Nyrstar is a global multi-metal smelting and mining business with a market-leading position in zinc and lead. This was Nyrstar’s second full financial year as a consolidated part of the Trafigura Group. While the company’s overall operations remained loss making during the year, as a result of difficulties arising from COVID-19, operating challenges linked to neglected investments pre-acquisition and rising energy prices, it remained a year of progress.
Since completion of its restructuring and acquisition by Trafigura Group, Nyrstar has been in turnaround mode with significant capital investment in operational improvement and modernisation, following years of underinvestment.
This continued during 2021, with capital expenditure of USD267 million invested across Nyrstar’s global smelting operations and mining assets. Key objectives were to optimise the zinc smelters and our North American zinc mines to deliver their full potential, and to ramp-up redevelopment of the Port Pirie smelter in Australia to deliver improved profitability.
Regrettably, Nyrstar’s operations in East Tennessee in North America recorded three fatalities during the financial year, the most recent of which, in July 2021, was caused by an internal rock fall. As an immediate response to this incident, the East Tennessee mine ceased work in all mines with high backs of 35 foot or higher and a new mining method is currently being implemented. Production levels are expected to ramp up to normal levels during FY2022.
In Australia, the company’s smelting operations continued to face operating challenges, which resulted in lower than planned processed feedstock levels. This led to the recognition of an impairment loss of USD125 million.
However, in Europe, as a result of investments and various logistical and process improvements, Nyrstar sites were able to maintain production despite market disruptions caused by COVID-19. Also, as a result of sustainability initiatives, Nyrstar’s European plants reported a reduction in carbon footprint and, in collaboration with Nala Renewables, constructed on-site renewable power and electricity storage facilities, providing green electricity to the national grids of their host countries, Belgium and the Netherlands. These activities underpinned Nyrstar’s role as a responsible producer and reliable business partner with strong customer relationships and high-quality products, helping it to rebuild the customer base that had been eroded by the company’s economic difficulties prior to its acquisition and restructuring by Trafigura.
Key highlights: Nyrstar green zinc
Since January 2021, all of the energy purchased by Nyrstar’s Dutch smelter in Budel is generated from renewable sources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to close to zero. Furthermore, plans are being implemented to expand the existing photovoltaic capacity at the site to create the largest solar park in the Netherlands.
At the twin Belgian smelting sites of Balen and Pelt, 50 percent of the energy purchased during 2021 was from renewable sources, and investment is underway in a EUR30 million lithium-ion battery energy storage system in Balen under ownership of Trafigura‘s joint venture Nala Renewables. This will contribute to the efficiency of the Belgian electricity grid.
In 2021, Nyrstar invested in greener and more efficient logistics by shifting freight operations from road to rail and barge. For example, working with a logistics partner, Budel by-products are now transported by train to Antwerp, eliminating 7,200 truck journeys annually.
In addition, Nyrstar improved the quality of the acid it produces in order to build profitable acid sales in-region rather than for export, further reducing transport miles and emissions.
Looking ahead to 2022, Nyrstar will continue to seek to stabilise production across its operations, although headwinds are increasing, in particular in the form of rising energy prices, which have already forced a curtailment of production at European sites after the end of the financial year. Investment in catch-up and sustainability projects are planned to continue and Nyrstar will continue to make investments (supported by Trafigura) with a view to increasing its annual zinc production and recurring EBITDA in 2022.
Puma Energy is a leading emerging markets energy business, safely providing energy solutions in 41 countries across six continents. The company has around 2,000 retail sites, a presence at over 100 airports and a network of storage terminals operated under the infrastructure and downstream divisions. It creates value from supplying, distributing and delivering refined oil products, such as fuels, lubricants and bitumen as well as related retail activities and services. It benefits from quality supply at competitive prices through its arms-length commercial supply contracts with Trafigura.
The key event for Puma Energy in 2021 was its recapitalisation, which strengthened its balance sheet through a USD500 million rights issue, implemented by way of a convertible instrument. The rights issue was approved by Puma Energy shareholders in April 2021 and was completed on 30 September 2021, enabling the company to repay more than USD760 million of debt after obtaining the relevant regulatory approvals.
As a result, Trafigura’s shareholding in Puma Energy increased to approximately 72 percent and Puma Energy was consolidated into Trafigura, effective Trafigura’s financial year-end. Hadi Hallouche was appointed as CEO and René Medori re-appointed as Non-Executive Chairman. The recapitalisation included the sale of Puma Energy’s Angolan business to Sonangol for USD600 million and the acquisition by Trafigura of Sonangol’s shares in Puma Energy for a similar amount. Completion of this transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and expected to close shortly after Trafigura’s financial year-end. Completion will see Trafigura’s shareholding in Puma Energy increase to around 93 percent.
Puma Energy is organised into four regions: the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Europe and two segments Infrastructure and Downstream which manage the retail, commercial, aviation, refining and other businesses.
The company is focused on three priorities. First, it aims to simplify and reinvigorate its core business by investing strategically in downstream assets to grow market share. Second, it will prepare for the future of energy by continuing to help customers and communities secure access to affordable energy while helping to advance the transition to a lower carbon future. Third, it will work closely with Trafigura, increasing its competitiveness by leveraging Trafigura’s energy market intelligence and expertise in supply chain optimisation.
An example of preparation for the future of energy is the installation of solar and battery projects on Puma Energy sites. Projects have already been completed at 43 retail and terminal sites with an installed capacity of 1,589KWp.
Puma Energy’s results in 2020 and its performance in the first half of 2021 were significantly affected by COVID-19 and the resulting global economic downturn. The company’s financial year runs to 31December so annual figures are not yet available, but signs of improvement were evident by September, with good growth in the aviation business and a steady recovery in the downstream segment, especially in Latin America. Weaker global demand for bitumen, particularly in China and the US, had an impact on volumes and EBITDA. Safety remains a key priority and in this respect Puma Energy’s performance was very good, recording a significantly lower lost-time injury frequency rate and no employee fatalities as at the end of its Q3.
Looking ahead to 2022, Puma Energy expects the recovery to gain momentum in many core sectors and approaches the new year on a much sounder financial footing to compete for business.
Impala Terminals is a 50-50 joint venture with global investment management firm IFM Investors. Its primary focus is on the design, implementation, ownership and operation of multimodal logistics assets. This includes the safe, reliable transfer of dry and liquid bulk cargoes and containers to and from inland sites of production and consumption, through deep-sea ports. The Impala Terminals joint venture owns, manages and operates base metals terminals in Mexico, Peru and Spain; refined oil products storage and distribution in Paraguay and fluvial operations on the river Paraguay; multimodal transportation services in sub-Saharan Africa; and a global freight-forwarding business that provides global 24/7 coverage to its clients.
Separately, Impala Terminals also manages a number of Trafigura-owned port, logistical, storage and transportation assets that support Trafigura’s commodity trading business and third-party trade flows in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Globally, Impala Terminals has a total of 28 branded operations across 18 countries. These operations all performed at or above expectations during 2021, with limited disruption resulting from local challenges linked to COVID-19.
In 2021, the operations owned by the Impala Terminals joint venture successfully extended operations at major locations and diversified services to encompass a broader range of cargoes, including adding dry cargoes to the range of fluvial services offered on the Paraguay River. In Mexico, the company finished the construction of a new empty container terminal, a new laboratory and the installation of solar panels that will supply up to 50 percent of Impala Terminals Mexico’s energy needs. In Peru, the company added to the range of the cargoes handled by opening a new general cargo site and a metals storage area which operates in conjunction with the mineral concentrate operation. In Spain, the company showed good growth from import volumes.
At the logistics business of the Impala Terminals joint venture, import volumes and container freight volumes rose strongly as the company increased its trade flows in a number of countries, in particular those in sub-Saharan Africa. The business also operated from new sites in Botswana and Durban and developed new paperless mobile technology for contractors and for its Peru and other South American operations in response to COVID-19 and to reduce environmental impacts.
Early in the year, the Impala Terminals joint venture launched a certified carbon-neutral freight service. The service provides its customers with transparent and accurate calculations of indirect greenhouse gas emissions generated by the transportation of shipments of nonferrous metals and minerals by container. It also offers them the opportunity to offset residual emissions by providing funds to high-quality carbon finance projects around the world. All carbon neutral shipments are certified in accordance with the Carbon Neutral Protocol.
Impala Terminals’ African assets in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had another busy year with increased bi-directional volumes on the back of an upturn in import flows as company sites in the region continued to exploit key synergies. Impala Terminals established additional warehousing capacity in Kolwezi in the DRC as a result of an increase in demand in the Copperbelt, while the development of rail and road services continued. During the year, Impala Terminals announced that it will be exiting the port of Dar es Salaam, after 11 years at the site, as it takes advantage of efficiencies at other locations nearby but just outside the port.
In Colombia, where Impala Terminals operates an inland port at Barrancabermeja and a barging operation from the Atlantic ports of Barranquilla and Cartagena, the company performed according to expectations despite the impact of COVID-19, economic uncertainty and social unrest. Record volumes of oil, dry and product cargoes were handled at Barrancabermeja and a record number of barges were discharged at Cartagena, with light crude oil a key growth market. In 2021, we signed an agreement to connect the Ecopetrol Refinery to the Impala Terminals infrastructure, while the company is also targeting greater integration with Puma Energy assets. The government’s decision to proceed with the dredging of the Magdalena River, which is planned to commence in 2022, is expected to have a positive impact on the business.
In Chile, Impala Terminals’ four sites, in Antofagasta, Arica, Copiapo and Coquimbo, performed well in the face of significant COVID-19-related headwinds, including the impact of the pandemic on the supply chain. Despite significant disruption to mining production in the country, the company handled increased volumes of concentrates in 2021. Some services were withdrawn at the Copiapo site while volumes handled increased at Antofagasta, with Impala Terminals targeting the expansion of its warehousing capacity at the latter. Going forward, development in Chile will also focus on contributing to company sustainable development plans.
In Bolivia, Impala Terminals posted a healthy performance in 2021. Operations at Oruro and Potosi both recorded growth for the year, benefitting from increased mining production in the region and the addition of new producers to its customer base. The company reported zero lost-time incidents in the country for the third year in a row.
At the Impala Burnside terminal in the US state of Louisiana, the company focused on diversifying activity, in particular targeting opportunities with third parties in renewable fuels, which is a long-term market for the business. At the end of 2021, Impala Terminals Burnside sold an option on a portion of land at Burnside to a major US industrial gas and chemical firm, which, if the option is executed as anticipated, plans to design, construct and operate a blue ammonia plant that would be operational by 2026. During the year, petroleum coke was the key commodity as coal volumes remained flat.
In Dubai, Impala Terminals Middle East reported strong performance for the year, with revenue, profit and volume all rising as the customer base was expanded. The company signed three new mid-to-long-term storage and container handling deals and created a solid forward-looking pipeline. This came despite the continued negative effects of the pandemic. The business grew its industry footprint and moved further into the e-commerce space, while looking ahead, it is considering opportunities in the region.
Impala Terminals continues to manage the challenges associated with climate change and the transition to lowcarbon energy, while diversifying services and customers and growing its operations to take opportunities in an evolving marketplace. It will continue to measure and manage its emissions, in line with the Trafigura Group climate change strategy.
TFG Marine is a joint venture between Trafigura and two of the world’s largest shipowners, Frontline Ltd and Golden Ocean Ltd, founded in 2019 to serve the global bunker fuel market. We work closely with Trafigura’s in-house trading and shipping teams to source and sell competitively priced fuels both to vessels under Trafigura time charter and to the wider shipping market.
The global tanker market provided a sombre backdrop in 2021, one of the toughest years on record for bunkering as a result of oversupply. However, TFG Marine made strong progress, increasing its footprint and volumes in all regions, to the point where it is already one of the top three physical bunker suppliers in the market. A key advantage is the strong financial backing of the Trafigura Group: in the current environment of rising oil prices, this has enabled TFG Marine to provide favourable payment terms to customers where some other suppliers have struggled to do so. During the year, TFG Marine more than held its own, even in the most challenging parts of the market, such as Africa and Singapore, and secured licences to enable further expansion in the European port complex of AmsterdamRotterdam-Antwerp, the Mediterranean and China.
The current bunker market is unsustainable, and 2022 is expected to be a year of accelerating consolidation, with players exiting the market for various reasons, including insufficient access to financial liquidity. The market is also becoming more transparent and more focused on managing the climate transition, with all the costs that will entail. For TFG Marine, this amounts to a unique opportunity to win business through innovation and the supply of alternative lower-carbon fuels and co-operation with other players, supported by an already strong brand, a solid financial position and a reputation for transparency.
Galena Asset Management
Galena Asset Management, Trafigura’s wholly owned and regulated investment subsidiary, operates a number of funds investing in energy and mining and related assets. It offers third-party investors the opportunity to invest alongside Trafigura on an equal basis. The main focus of activity in 2021 was the Galena Multistrategy Fund, Galena’s liquid hedge fund that trades a commodity macro strategy. The fund was up 82 percent for the Trafigura financial year, making it one of the best performing commodity hedge funds globally.
The fund was able to capitalise on the unique investment opportunities created in the macro and commodities space by the dislocations arising from COVID-19 and its aftermath – in particular the collision between a strong revival in demand for commodities and a more constrained supply response, coupled with substantial logistical bottlenecks. Our ability to leverage Trafigura’s market intelligence was paramount. Particularly in this market environment, our ability to rely on market specialists with detailed and timely information enabled us to understand the underlying realities of the physical markets.
On the private equity side of Galena Asset Management’s activities, substantial progress was made in Terrafame, a portfolio company of Galena Asset Management. Although Terrafame suffered delays as a result of the global pandemic, the company started producing nickel sulphate in its plant during the summer. Through this project, which has been financed by Galena Asset Management (among others), Terrafame is transitioning into one of the most efficient, low-carbon battery-grade nickel sulphate producers in the world.
For the year ahead, volatility is expected to continue as the structural factors driving it are far from being resolved, and record high energy costs are likely to act as a further source of economic instability. The resources sector in general and particularly the upstream oil industry are suffering from chronic low capital expenditures. The lack of new developments is a drag on the ability to meet growing demand. Galena Asset Management will launch a fund specialising in energy trade finance opportunities that will co-invest alongside Trafigura in opportunities in the upstream sector globally.
In December 2020, Trafigura acquired from Rosneft a 10 percent stake in the authorised capital of Vostok Oil LLC, a large-scale world class oil and gas project in the Krasnoyarsk territory of Russia. Trafigura is a passive minority investor in Vostok Oil with no operational or managerial control.
Vostok Oil holds 52 licence areas and 13 hydrocarbon fields. These hold six billion tonnes of high-quality, low-sulphur oil resources and around two trillion cubic metres of gas. Rosneft, the largest Russian oil company and the operator of Vostok Oil, has already started active development of the project which is expected to deliver up to 30 million tonnes of oil via the Northern Sea Route by 2024.
Implementing the project, Rosneft is committed to ensuring adherence to the highest environmental standards with the application of advanced technologies for environmental protection, from well drilling to the specialised design of oil pipelines and of tankers exporting produced oil. These are all geared to ensure that the project has a carbon footprint that is significantly lower than that of other major new oil projects in the world. Utilisation of associated gas production and year-round generation of wind power from the production site are also expected to contribute towards achieving this goal.
Trafigura and Rosneft have also agreed to conduct a joint study into ways of reducing CO2 emissions. In October 2021, the companies signed a cooperation agreement to arrange an independent assessment of greenhouse gas emissions across Rosneft’s crude oil supply chain. The companies will work together to secure an independent calculation of Rosneft’s carbon footprint for delivery from production sites to three Russian export ports: Novorossiysk, Primorsk and Ust-Luga. Rosneft and Trafigura also stated that they intend to identify projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the entire value chain of Urals crude oil.
Guangxi Jinchuan is one of China’s largest standalone copper smelters. Located in Fangchenggang in Guangxi province on the country’s southern coast, it has a design capacity of 400,000 tonnes and operates with power-efficient and environmentally friendly double flash technology.
Trafigura has held a 30 percent stake in the Guangxi Jinchuan smelter since 2015, with the other 70 percent stake and operational control held by Jinchuan Group, one of China’s largest copper producers. We are still the only international trading business with an equity investment in a substantial Chinese copper operation. Linked to our equity stake is a multi-year commercial agreement giving Trafigura the right to supply around 30 percent of Guangxi Jinchuan’s concentrate feeding materials.
In 2021, the smelter showed a relatively rapid recovery from production issues it had experienced in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 and grew production to 465,000 tonnes. Profitability was similar to that in 2020, thanks to strong demand from cathodes consumption and sulphuric acid even through treatment and refining charges are lower than last year.
For 2022, we expect the copper market to remain tight, driving cathode premiums higher and further improving the profitability of Guangxi Jinchuan. Annual production is expected to rise further, to as much as 470,000 tonnes.
H2 Energy Holding AG, based in Zurich, is a business developer of green hydrogen solutions and a unique provider of zero-carbon value chains for heavy duty transportation. In December 2020 it was announced that Trafigura would initially invest USD62 million, including a USD20 million capital injection into the company to support the development of a green hydrogen ecosystem for trucking in Switzerland, covering production, storage and distribution.
H2 Energy, founded in 2014, develops and operates hydrogen ecosystems, develops production sites for green hydrogen, engineers hydrogen refuelling stations and provides solutions for the storage and transport of hydrogen. H2 Energy has strong alliances with large industrial players and market leaders such as Hyundai, Alpiq and Linde, and is the first company in the Western world to deliver serial produced fuel cell trucks to commercial users. A total of 47 trucks are already in operation for large transporters and retailers in Switzerland with an additional 1,550 hydrogen fuel cell trucks on order for 2025.
The remainder of Trafigura’s USD62 million capital investment is going into H2 Energy Europe, a newly established joint venture between H2 Energy and Trafigura that is aiming to replicate the successful Swiss model in other European countries, starting in Denmark. The company plans to build a 1GW green hydrogen production plant in Esbjerg, strategically located near the landing zone for Danish offshore wind power, to be operational by 2024.
Terrafame is a Finnish multi-metal company producing nickel, cobalt and zinc using environmentally sustainable bioheap leaching technology at its mine in Sotkamo, Finland. Trafigura’s private fund management arm Galena Asset Management owns a 31 percent stake and state-owned Finnish Minerals Group is the majority shareholder with 67 percent. Trafigura Group has provided loan and equity finance to support the ramp up of Terrafame’s production and the construction of a battery chemicals plant on-site.
Construction of the nickel sulphate plant has been completed, but later than planned as a result of COVID-19- related delays in obtaining key equipment. Completion of the plant is a milestone for Terrafame: it will substantially increase the company’s sales and position Terrafame as a crucial supplier to the growing battery market for electric vehicles. Priorities for 2022 include stabilising operations at the nickel sulphate plant and accelerating its ramp up and making further progress in improving safety performance across Terrafame operations to industry-leading levels.
Emissions of greenhouse gases are becoming increasingly scrutinised in the resources industries, particularly for those assets supplying the electric vehicle value chain. Terrafame sits at the very low end of the carbon curve, with a carbon footprint under 10t 2/t Ni, which has prompted a lot of interest in its sulphate units from battery and car manufacturers. It is well positioned to meet growing global demand in general and growing demand in Europe specifically.
In March 2021, Trafigura acquired a 19 percent interest in Goro Resources via its shareholding in Prony Resources New Caledonia (PRNC). Goro Resources is a significant nickel mining operation on the Pacific island and Prony Resources New Caledonia is a joint venture which includes investors, mine management, employees and local government and community organisations. PRNC has secured direct employment for more than 1,500 people and indirect employment for more than 10,000 inhabitants of New Caledonia.
Following the takeover, in April 2021, the facility was successfully restarted and ramped up to produce 3,000 tonnes of mixed hydroxide precipitate (MHP), meeting electric vehicle battery specifications in just three months. Strong market conditions for MHP intermediates, as a result of growing demand for electric vehicles, supported the decision to shift the facility from producing nickel oxide for stainless steel production to MHP for batteries. Other developments in 2021 included the successful management of the impact of COVID-19 on employees.
Priorities for 2022 include progressing with a tailings drystacking project to reduce tailings storage risk and protect the environment, which will further increase production, to at least 35,000 tonnes, and reduce cash costs.