SA mining assets up for sale should go to local companies

Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi says priority should be given to local companies when asset sale is considered.

FILE: Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi chats to EWN at the World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos, Switzerland. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

LONDON - Anglo American and other companies looking to sell some of their mining assets in South Africa should sell to national champions, or companies owned by local communities and by their workers, South Africa's mining minister said on Monday.

Anglo American is looking at selling some of its coal assets in South Africa and has been considering options for its Rustenburg platinum mines.

"At the moment, for example, Anglo American is looking to dispose of most of its coal mines in South Africa so I want my people to take over those mines," minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said referring to the national champions he is fostering.

"In Rustenburg, I would hope we can manage to grab those as well," he said without specifying what the economic conditions for such an acquisition would be.

A steep fall in commodity prices as well as disruption from labour disputes, plus uncertainty about potential policy changes has diminished South Africa's appeal for mining investments.

Ramatlhodi said the idea was to promote a type of company which would include a large percentage of women and young workers and propose several financing schemes that could be put together through financial institutions in South Africa.

"The government will not own anything but we will facilitate ownership using the instruments available to us to say to companies: if you dispose, give to an entity which looks like this," the minister told Reuters on the sidelines of the Chatham House Extractive Industries in Africa event.

"These companies must be run as a business, not as a charity. You must have people experienced in the mining industry to run them."

But the minister said companies wishing to sell businesses presented an opportunity to help local communities take back a share of the sector.