NUM will oppose Amplats mine sales

Amplats says “a number” of suitors had expressed interest in buying the strike-hit mines.

Anglo American Platinum mine in Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Monday it opposed plans by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) to sell some of its strike-hit mines since the disposals would lead to job cuts.

"Any sale is going to result in job losses and this is punishment for poor workers. They are an established platinum operator and any sale will have certain consequences," NUM general secretary Frans Baleni told Reuters.

Amplats said on Monday "a number" of suitors had expressed interest in buying the strike-hit mines it is selling in South Africa.

Chief Executive Officer Chris Griffith also said on a conference call with journalists that the company would stick to growth and capital spending plans for the South African mines it is keeping.

The world's number one platinum producer said it planned to sell its Union mine, Rustenburg operations and a joint venture in South Africa, a widely expected move after it was hit by a five-month strike.

Unveiling its interim results, Amplats said it had lost over 420,000 ounces in production to the wage strike by the hard-line Amcu union. Its headline earnings per share dropped to 60 cents, a fall of almost 90 percent.

"In our capital-constrained environment, we have decided that we will exit from the Union and Rustenburg mines, and our Pandora JV operation," Amplats said.

"There are a number of potential investors seeking access to the platinum industry and these are good long-life assets with potential that will provide them with that access."

Amplats' parent Anglo American had already signaled its intention to reduce its troubled platinum portfolio.

A disposal is probably more palatable to the government and workforce than job cuts, which would have almost certainly been met by fierce political and union resistance.

The front runner to buy Amplats' mines is Sibanye Gold, whose chief executive Neal Froneman told Reuters this month that he wanted a platinum deal before the end of the year and could easily raise $1 billion.

But Froneman said he did not think any of the platinum mines Sibanye was looking at were "anywhere near" that price.

Analysts have said Amplats' five Rustenburg mines plus its Union mine could be worth between $1 billion and $2 billion.