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AngloGold must keep South Africa listing to sell last local assets to Harmony Gold

South Africa said AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. must remain listed on the local bourse in order to conclude the sale of its last remaining assets in the country to Harmony Gold Mining Co.

The transfer of mining rights to Harmony — which is needed to close the sale of its Mponeng mine and its surface assets in South Africa — is also conditional on AngloGold keeping its headquarters in the country. While the government didn’t give a reason, it indicates that South Africa is trying to maintain some control over a gold industry that’s been steadily declining.

AngloGold announced the sale of the assets earlier this year in a $300 million deal that marks an exit from South Africa for a company that emerged from a mining empire created by Ernest Oppenheimer a century ago. The miner has whittled down its presence in South Africa, shifting focus to more profitable operations in Africa, Australia and the Americas, as the sector in its home country dwindles due to challenges of mining the deepest gold deposits.

“AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. shall not disinvest from the South African economy by delisting from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange,” nor by relocating its head quarters from South Africa, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said by email.

The DMRE couldn’t immediately clarify whether the condition refers to the company being barred from moving its primary listing and having the JSE as a secondary listing.

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AngloGold didn’t immediately respond to emailed questions. The shares fell as much as 2.1% in Johannesburg, but are up 54% this year.

While the company has long mooted plans to move its primary listing from Johannesburg, that’s no longer a “priority” as the producer focuses on navigating the coronavirus pandemic, former Chief Executive Officer Kelvin Dushnisky said earlier this month.