South African mining executives, investors and officials gather in the nation’s economic hub for the Joburg Indaba conference to discuss the industry’s investment prospects after years of regulatory uncertainty.
Overall, it’s been a good year for South African miners as the rally in iron ore, gold and platinum-group metal prices boosted earnings and put dividends back on the agenda. Still, looming labor disputes, a reliance on a weak currency and the slow demise of gold mining leave the industry with plenty of challenges.
Here are the latest developments, updated throughout the day. (Time-stamps are local time in Johannesburg.)
Anglo Won’t Invest in New Thermal Coal Mines (12:05 p.m.)
Anglo American probably won’t invest in new thermal coal mines in South Africa as energy transition leads to more volatile prices, CEO Cutifani said in interview on the sidelines of the conference. At same time, the company will extend the life of the existing thermal assets it holds and won’t just walk away, he said. Those assets have attracted interest from potential buyers in the past, and CEO expects that to continue.
Cutifani is enthusiastic about opportunities in PGMs, and Anglo is undertaking a full feasibility study on the Mogalakwena concentrator. The company is committed to investing in the Venetia diamond mine, although the project has to do better, he said.
Anglo CEO Says Investors Need Stability (10:35 a.m.)
Anglo American Plc Chief Executive Officer Mark Cutifani said there is no shortage of geological opportunities in South Africa, but to attract mining investment requires political stability and regulatory clarity. While encouraged by positive improvements in the political arena, the “parlous state” of public finances remains a challenge, according to Cutifani. The CEO said companies must work with the government to tackle “unresolved issues” in the nation’s Mining Charter, which seeks to address inequalities resulting from apartheid.
The multiplier effect of growing the mining industry – which currently supports about 4.5 million people – could drive a “wholesale economic renewal of South Africa.” Still, Cutifani cautioned that abundant and high grade deposits won’t guarantee investment. “There are many other factors besides mineral endowment that influence where investors decide to put their money, all of which drive reassurance to investors about the security of their investment over time,” he said.
Amplats CEO Sees Good PGM Fundamentals (10:02 a.m.)
Anglo American Platinum Ltd. CEO Chris Griffith said fundamentals for platinum-group metals will remain good for a “number of years.” The improving market has enabled producers to increase their profitable supply and has drawn greater interest in platinum stocks from international investors, he said. The company known as Amplats is studying a number of projects for its “next wave of growth,” according to the CEO.
The regulatory environment in South Africa has improved, but the government needs to resolve the issue of community disruptions around mines, which is leading to huge losses for producers, Griffith said. Labor disruptions, crime and xenophobia are deterring investors, while policy differences between government and ruling African National Congress are also a concern, he said.