‘SA must let go of mine nationalisation’

Outgoing Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll says SA must get rid of the "spectre of nationalisation".

Mine. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has got rid of the "spectre of nationalisation" that hung over the mining industry and now needs to guard against damaging regulatory changes, the outgoing head of Anglo American (AAL.L) said.

Cynthia Carroll also said on Tuesday that proposals for a minerals "resource rent tax" being debated by the ruling African National Congress were "unnecessary and unwise".

A wave of wildcat strikes this year that shut large parts of Anglo's Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) unit had hit the company "very, very hard" and workers around its Rustenburg mines, 120 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, were still being threatened, she said.

As a result, Amplats, the world's biggest platinum producer, was struggling to get all miners back to work, she said.

The strikes, which started in the platinum sector in August, left more than 50 people dead and spilled into other industries, undermining investor confidence in Africa's biggest economy and the reputation of President Jacob Zuma's government.

While ministers went on a series of trips to assure investors the situation was under control, Carroll said few were likely to be convinced without clear signs of the government restoring law and order.

"International investors will not be comforted by well-meaning reassurances that fly in the face of the facts."

Amplats has been struggling with rising labour and power costs and falling platinum prices this year and the near term "shows no signs of respite", Carroll said, painting a gloomy picture as Anglo wraps up a review of its platinum business.

While Anglo would not shirk from "tough choices", splitting off the business from the rest of the global miners' operations was "not on the agenda", she said.