THE South African government is backing the establishment of a national mining champion owned by a broad base of communities and workers, Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said at the opening of the Mining Indaba conference attended by 7,000 delegates in Cape Town.
The government wanted to take advantage of the decision of various companies to sell large mines. Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) is selling its large Rustenburg mining complex as well as its Union mine and two stakes in joint ventures. BHP Billiton is hiving off assets into a separately listed company called South 32, which will house its mainly South African assets.
Without giving much detail, Mr Ramatlhodi said the national champions would be “community based with strong worker participation”.
He did not give timelines, funding or ownership details.
He also wanted the national champion to be headed by leaders who were prepared to take on the job for the long term.
The national champion could be a single commodity company or hold interests in multiple commodities, potentially splitting into separate companies, he said.
Amplats CEO Chris Griffith said on Monday that the company was not coming under any political pressure on the sale of its assets or to whom it should sell its mines.
Amplats would by June tell the market whether it would sell the mines or list one or both mines in a process that should be completed by the end of this year or early next year if the listing option was adopted.